U.S. Warms to Palestinian Unity as Israel Fumes

More and More, Allies Don't Walk in Diplomatic Lockstep

getty images

By Ron Kampeas

Published June 03, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

The willingness to treat the new government no differently than the old one, which had no Hamas influence, came as a surprise. In a statement over the weekend, Psaki had said that Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his concern about the new government in a phone call to Abbas.

Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, posted his reaction to Facebook within hours of Monday’s State Department announcement of the U.S. position.

“Israel is deeply disappointed with the State Department’s comments today on the Palestinian unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization responsible for the murder of many hundreds of Israelis, which has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities, and which remains committed to Israel’s destruction,” Dermer said.

He suggested that the technocrats provided cover to terrorists.

“This Palestinian unity government is a government of technocrats backed by terrorists, and should be treated as such,” Dermer said. “With suits in the front office and terrorists in the back office, it should not be business as usual.”

Israeli envoys rarely publicly rebuke U.S. administrations.

Netanyahu last month formally suspended peace negotiations with Abbas in part because of the announcement that governance talks with Hamas were underway. His security Cabinet reiterated that posture in a unanimous vote Monday and said in a statement that it would consider sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.

Congressional lawmakers from both parties said Hamas backing for the government could jeopardize U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority – between $400 million and $500 million a year.

There was, however, a subtle difference in the statements between Republican and Democratic lawmakers, with Democrats stopping short of calls for an immediate cutoff.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the Obama administration should continue to advance peace talks efforts. But she said funding for the Palestinian Authority was in “jeopardy” as long as Hamas rejected the preconditions for peace talks set down in 2008 by the Quartet, the international grouping that mediates the peace talks: recognizing Israel, renouncing terrorism and abiding by past agreements.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, said unequivocally that funding should stop.

“Until such time that it is determined that assistance to this so-called technocratic government is consistent with our own interests, principles, and laws, it is incumbent on the Administration to suspend U.S. assistance,” he said in a statement.

Major American Jewish groups also stopped short of calling for an immediate cutoff in funds but backed a review of funding for the Palestinian Authority.

“U.S. law is clear – no funds can be provided to a Palestinian government in which Hamas participates or has undue influence,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement. “We now urge Congress to conduct a thorough review of continued U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority to ensure that the law is completely followed and implemented.”

But Lara Friedman, the director of government relations for Americans for Peace Now, said the new government likely falls within the law.

“With no Hamas members inside the new government, no evidence of Hamas having ‘undue influence’ over it, and clear statements from Abbas that it will respect the Quartet conditions, the fact is that there is simply nothing in law requiring aid to the P.A. to cease,” she said.

Friedman noted that as recently as last month, after the talks between Abbas and Hamas were launched, AIPAC opposed cuts in funding to the Palestinian Authority, in part deferring to Israeli concerns that such actions would undercut Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.

Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote that according to his conversations with Israeli and U.S. government officials, the Americans had agreed to support Israel’s refusal to deal with the new unity government even as the United States maintained ties with it.

But with a clear difference in policy emerging, such support might not be enough to assure Israel, Satloff added.

“It is difficult to see what ‘support’ means if the practical result is U.S. acquiescence to Israel’s political isolation, which is the expected result of the considerable daylight that would open between the two countries on this critical issue if they chose different paths,” he wrote.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.