Senators slam potential Fatah-Hamas unity government

WASHINGTON – With progress made towards a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation during the past weeks, Senators expressed concern about the role of the Hamas in a Palestinian unity government. “I think the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) is unifying with a terrorist organization,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Jewish Insider. “I don’t mind a unity government with people who don’t openly call for the destruction of Israel. I would be very concerned about any government that included an unreformed terrorist organization.” In February, Graham introduced the Taylor Force Act, that severs all U.S. economic aid to the P.A. until they cease payments to families of terrorists.

The two largest Palestinian parties celebrated a step towards reconciliation last week in Cairo that included the reintegration of Hamas officials into P.A. ministries and the joint management of the border crossings. During a rare October 2 visit, P.A. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in the Hamas controlled Gaza and said, “We look forward to turning over the page of division forever.” However, a sticking point between the two Palestinian factions remains the control of Hamas’ weapons, which President Mahmoud Abbas insists must be placed under P.A. control.

Across the aisle, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained, “Hamas has a long history of terrorist behavior and so I am not encouraged by any government that includes Hamas. Given their history, I don’t view it as positive.”

The White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt reiterated in a statement on Thursday that any Palestinian government must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and accept previous agreements.

Given Hamas’ ongoing refusal to abide by these U.S. demands, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) noted that a Palestinian unity government with Hamas “would be a very toxic relationship with Israel. They would have even less of a partner to negotiate peace with if the person across the table welcomes individuals who don’t even recognize the existence of the Jewish people there.”

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