PRESS RELEASE: Deutch Sends Letter to Kerry on Concerns with U.S. Response to Hamas-backed Palestinian Unity Government
Deutch and Ros Lehtinen Letter Calls for Administration Testimony
Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21), Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, issued this statement after joining Subcommittee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) on a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry questioning the U.S. decision to work with a Palestinian unity government backed by Hamas and requesting Administration testimony on the issue:
“Today’s letter to Secretary Kerry reflects my deeply-held concerns with the decision by the State Department to ‘work’ with a Palestinian unity government fully backed by Hamas. Any decision to work with this government could be extraordinarily counterproductive to our efforts to both promote peace and defend the security of our ally Israel, and that is why Subcommittee Chairman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen and I are urging the Administration to provide witnesses in a hearing on this critical issue. The United States has provided billions of dollars to assist the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions necessary for a viable state, including a significant portion to enhance security and prevent terrorism. That decision is consistent with Congress’ prohibition of any U.S. aid being delivered to terrorists. However, Hamas leaders have made it clear that even as they are fully supportive of the interim Palestinian government, they refuse to abide by the Quartet principles. I look forward to hearing from the Administration on these critical issues as soon as possible.”
The full text of the letter to Secretary Kerry is provided below and available here.
June 9, 2014
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Dear Secretary Kerry,
The decision by Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government with the United States designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Hamas is a deeply disturbing development. While we understand that chosen members of the government may identify only as "technocrats", the government itself still received the full approval and endorsement of Hamas.
United States law clearly dictates that no U.S. funding will go to “any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.” Furthermore, throughout the reconciliation process with Fatah, senior Hamas members reiterated – even just last week – that the terrorist group has no intention of living up to or abiding by the Quartet principles. Any decision to work with this unity government could be extraordinarily counterproductive in our efforts both to promote peace and to help support the security of our ally Israel.
Accordingly, we request the opportunity to hear directly from the Administration at a hearing of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as to (i) the Administration's consideration of Hamas' role in the unity government in choosing to work with that interim government, (ii) the Administration's analysis of U.S law and its decision with respect to continuing to work with the interim government, and (iii) how the Administration plans to evaluate the actions of this interim government and what benchmarks will be in place that could impact future consideration of assistance to it.
We thank you for your immediate attention to this matter, and look forward to your timely response.
Theodore E. Deutch
Ranking Member, Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee
Chairman, Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee