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!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • 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.