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Senators send concerns to Obama over Palestinian unity gov’t

(JTA) — A bipartisan group of 88 senators sent a letter to President Obama expressing concern over the newly formed Palestinian unity government.

In the letter sent Wednesday, the senators said the formation of the unity government supported by Hamas, which the United States designates as a terrorist organization, “represents a serious setback to efforts to achieve peace.”

The senators said Hamas has never publicly accepted the principles presented by the Quartet — the diplomatic grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations that guides the Middle East process.

“We are gravely concerned that the formation of this government and President Abbas’ renewed effort to upgrade the status of the Palestinians within international organizations will jeopardize direct negotiations with Israel to achieve a two-state solution,” they wrote.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) initiated the letter.

“By its actions and inaction, Hamas has demonstrated it is not a partner for peace,” the letter said. “Hamas has openly called for Israel’s destruction and last month Hamas leaders again repeated their refusal to meet recognized international demands: recognition of Israel, renunciation of terror, and acceptance of previous Israel-PLO agreements.”

The senators reminded Obama that under U.S. law, including  the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 and restrictions contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2014, there is a legal prohibition on “foreign assistance to Hamas or any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member or over which Hamas has undue influence.”

“Any assistance should only be provided when we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with the restrictions contained in current law,” according to the letter.

 

 

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