Congressmen call for Gaza aid conditions

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Democratic members of the U.S. Congress are calling for conditions to be placed on the $300 million in U.S. aid slated for Gaza.

In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) say it is "essential that we not simply write a ‘blank check’ for the Gaza-based Palestinians to continue" their missile attacks on Israel.

"We must instead send a message that the United States will help with the needs of the Palestinians if — and only if — they meet the conditions of the international community to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and commit to all agreements they have signed with Israel," the congressmen said, adding that "not only has Hamas failed to meet any of these conditions, it has not stopped raining rockets on Israeli territory and still holds captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that none of the $300 million in aid — part of an overall $900 million package of aid to the Palestinians — will go to Hamas. The Gaza assistance is designated to meet humanitarian needs following the Israeli military operation in December and January.

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