The four top members of the U.S. House of Representatives dealing with the Middle East asked the government to reconsider $86 million slated for use by Mahmoud Abbas. The money was meant to bolster forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority president, who leads the relatively moderate Fatah Party, against challenges from the terrorist Hamas movement. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the lawmakers said they were reconsidering their support for the funding in light of a recent Hamas-Fatah national unity agreement. Signing on to the letter were Reps. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-Fla.), its ranking member; Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of its Middle East subcommittee; and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the subcommittee’s ranking member.”The fact that Fatah will now join a government led by Hamas terrorists – and will do so with Abbas’ blessing – raises serious questions about the commitments and loyalties of the Palestinian security forces we had undertaken to assist,” the letter said. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House’s Foreign Operations Subcommittee, has placed a hold on the funds transfer.State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the letter raised legitimate concerns and that it was under examination. “These are questions that the secretary herself would want answered to ensure that any funding does not end up in the hands of Hamas or a Hamas-led government,” he said Monday.
Top lawmakers oppose cash for Abbas