WASHINGTON (JTA) — A top U.S. congressman says he will advise against rejoining the Inter-Parliamentary Union if it does not provide assurances that Hamas will not attend its meetings.
Congress sent an observer mission last week to the union’s annual meeting, taking place this year in Ethiopia, to reconsider its decision in 1999 to leave the international body of lawmakers. Republicans at the time controlled both houses.
“After the U.S. observer delegation completed its participation in the main assembly, it was discovered that two members of Hamas were at the IPU meeting and were registered officially as ‘advisers’ on the Palestinian Delegation,” U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee said in a statement. “The Hamas ‘advisers’ and the Iranian delegation disrupted the speech of Israeli delegation head Silvan Shalom, Israel’s deputy prime minister.”
Berman noted that it was the policy of the Quartet, the body guiding the Middle East peace process comprised of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, not to deal with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel.
"Unless the IPU can assure us that Hamas will not participate as part of the official Palestinian delegation at any future meetings before the Quartet conditions are satisfied, I will be recommending to my colleagues that the U.S. House of Representatives not rejoin the IPU," he said.