WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States will not deal with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas as long as the terrorist group does not meet criteria for recognition, Hillary Rodham Clinton said.
The U.S. secretary of state, testifying Wednesday before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, was responding to queries about nearly $1 billion that the Obama administration has requested from Congress in assistance for the Palestinian Authority.
“We will not deal with or in any way fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel” and abided by earlier agreements with Israel, Clinton said.
Clinton said that for now, the United States would not discourage unity talks between the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, and Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip.
“We want to leave open the door that that can happen,” she said, referring to the possibility Hamas may reform. “We’re not betting on it.”
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who toured Israel and the Gaza Strip in February in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war there, pressed Clinton to encourage Israel to expand its definition of basic humanitarian needs in considering what to allow into Gaza. He noted, for instance, that Israel at the time of his visit would allow rice but not pasta to enter the strip.
Clinton suggested that subsequent to her representations, Israel had expanded allowable items.
"We have urged the Israeli government on several occasions to open the crossings as much as they are able, commensurate with their legitimate security needs," she said. "I know that those lists have changed."
Clinton also outlined the administration’s Iran strategy: continue outreach, and build an international coalition that would enhance Iran’s isolation should outreach fail as a strategy to end the Islamic Republic’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
“It is our expectation that we will be able to put together such a comprehensive sanctions regime in the event we need it," she said, "and it is our commitment that we will pursue that in the event we are unsuccessful or stonewalled.”