Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will the Obama Administration Fund Hamas?

The Obama administration has a foreign policy problem.

The problem has largely escaped scrutiny, but this morning the Wall Street Journal brings it to everyone’s attention.

The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has just formed a unity government with terrorist organization, Hamas.

Now, the Journal explains: “… the U.S. has budgeted some $500 million in direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the current fiscal year, plus another $232 million for the U.N. welfare agency that deals with the descendants of Palestinian refugees. U.S. law prohibits aid to any Palestinian government that includes Hamas. The question for the Administration is whether it will abide by the law—or search for a legal loophole.”

Already Hillary Clinton’s State Department is looking for a loophole. Abiding by the law is not high on the Obama administration’s list of priorities.

The Journal writes: “In 2009, Hillary Clinton was unequivocal. The U.S. ‘will not deal with, nor in any way fund, a Palestinian government that included Hamas,’ said the Secretary of State, unless Hamas renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel.”

Today, it is singing from a different hymnal: “That stern finger isn't wagging now. ‘We are not going to give a grade to this thing until we have a chance to talk to Palestinian Authority leaders about the implications,’ said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, along with the usual throat-clearing about U.S. red lines. She added that the deal was an ‘internal matter’ for Palestinians.”

What should the administration do? The Journal recommends that it rebuke the Palestinian Authority publicly for his association with Hamas. There is a precedent. In the past the administration was quick to call out the Israeli government for actions it considered prejudicial to Palestinian interests.

In the Journal’s words:

It may not be too late for the U.S. to tell the Palestinians that they cannot bring a terrorist organization into government while continuing to expect American money and sympathy. But that would require sharp and public statements from Mrs. Clinton and President Obama of the kind they have used to rebuke Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Administration likes to tout itself as the best friend Israel has ever had. Its attitude toward Palestinian "reconciliation" is a test of that boast.

A great editorial.

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