WASHINGTON (JTA) — The National Jewish Democratic Council counseled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to use the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation to back down from peacemaking.
"The power-sharing agreement between Hamas and Fatah represents a turning point in the current dynamics of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," said the statement Tuesday from the NJDC. "We know President Barack Obama and his Administration will monitor this situation exceptionally closely and act decisively, helping Israel to mitigate any potential dangers to its future security this apparent new reality could cause."
The statement, which came out the day that Hamas and Fatah signed the unity deal, alluded to warnings by Netanyahu that he could not work with a government that included Hamas.
"We are hopeful that President Obama will show continuing strong leadership; that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not see this as a reason to be deterred from presenting bold steps towards a lasting peace," it said, "and that this reported accord will put pressure on the most extreme elements of Palestinian society to lay down their weapons and end this generations-old conflict."
Hamas, the statement said, "must renounce violence, abide by past agreements and recognize Israel’s right to exist."
The NJDC statement puts the influential group on the side of the White House as a rift seems to emerge between the Obama administration and Congress members of both parties.
The White House has expressed its dismay over the agreement between Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, the terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip, but has stopped short of saying that it will cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority.
A number of lawmakers have said that the United States should end relations with the Palestinian Authority because of the deal.