by Yehudah Lev Kay
(IsraelNN.com) Members of the U.S. Congress are worried by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s backpedaling on the issue of aid to a future Palestinian Authority (PA) government that would include Hamas.
In her initial and widely publicized testimony, the Secretary of State told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee last Wednesday that the U.S. would not aid any PA government which included Hamas, unless the terrorist group renounces violence, recognizes Israel, and abides by past agreements signed by the PA.
Members of Congress are concerned, however, by Clinton’s less reported testimony the next day in the Appropriations Committee. At that venue, Clinton indicated that the Obama administration would indeed be willing to fund a unity PA-Hamas government that met the U.S.â€™s conditions, even if Hamas’s ministers in that government reject them.
‘Only a few Nazis’
Clinton met harsh resistance from members of the committee. â€œItâ€™s like saying â€¦ it only has a few Nazis in it but thatâ€™s okay,â€ said Mark Kirk, a Republican representative from Illinois.
The Obama administration has pledged $840 million dollars to the PA, part of which would go to Gaza, as part of an $83.4 billion emergency spending bill which focuses mainly on Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. law forbids funding a terrorist organization, and would therefore prevent funds from reaching the PA if it succeeds in ongoing unity talks with Hamas.
â€œWe doubt there will be such a unity agreement,â€ Clinton told lawmakers, â€œbut we donâ€™t want to, you know, bind our hands in the event that such an agreement is reached.â€ She suggested the administration would exercise its prerogative to go ahead with the funding in any case if the need arises. %ad%
Clinton cites Hizbullah
Democratic representative Nita Lowey from New York expressed her belief that Hamas would have to renounce terrorism in order for the funding to go through. â€œI believe itâ€™s not enough for Abu Mazen or Salam Fayyad to accept these principles,â€ Lowey said. â€œIt must be all the ministers, including any minister appointed by Hamas.”
Clinton argued in response that the U.S. is â€œcurrently supporting the Lebanese government, which has Hizbullah in it.â€ She also said the Obama administration saw a difference between the Hamas leadership in Gaza and that in Damascus, which had direct ties to Iran.
Californian Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat, disagreed. â€œYou canâ€™t have the leadership of a terrorist organization pick the ministers in the [unity] government.â€ He said Clintonâ€™s proposal sounded â€œcompletely unworkableâ€.
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