WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he will introduce legislation that would cut U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority unless its government recognized Israel as a Jewish state.
Paul (R-Ky.), a likely contender for the Republican presidential nod in 2016, said the law was needed because of the interim governance agreement last week between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
He said he would introduce the legislation this week if there is no such statement after five weeks — the deadline set by Hamas and the Fatah faction to establish an interim government that would lay the ground for elections.
“In the absence of such a clear, unambiguous statement on the part of the newly unified Palestinian government, the United States should act to enforce the law and cut off aid to the Palestinian government until they recognize Israel’s right to exist,” Paul said.
Referring to Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is termed a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and the European Union, Paul said, “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with an entity that does not believe it should exist and that has used terrorist tactics to seek its end. That being said, the new unity government has a chance to put itself on the record as clearly believing in the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, as Israel recognizes the right of a Palestinian state to exist.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that any peace agreement must include Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
“It should also declare an immediate and lasting cease-fire to enable negotiations,” Paul said of the Palestinian government.
U.S. law bans the distribution of funds to any Hamas-affiliated entity. The Palestinian Authority has said the interim government will have the backing of Hamas but will not be affiliated with it.
Paul has drawn criticism in the past from the pro-Israel community for advocating cutting assistance to Israel as part of his broader advocacy for an end to U.S. foreign assistance.