In the lead-up to this week's presidential meetings and public addresses expected to redefine the Obama administration's Middle East policy, two congressmen are weighing in on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and how they believe the U.S. should handle it.
In a column published Wednesday in Politico, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill., cast aspersions on the Hamas regime, which recently joined with the Palestinian Authority in a unity government, and suggest the U.S. cut its support for any Palestinian government of which Hamas is a part.
"As President Barack Obama draws national attention to the Middle East with a major speech on Thursday, we ask our fellow lawmakers — and all Americans — the following questions: Does this seem like a group [Hamas] with whom Israel can make peace? Would you trust this organization to have free rein in your own backyard? Is this a group deserving of $550 million in annual foreign aid from cash-strapped U.S. taxpayers?"
It is a sentiment previously put forth by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
Commenting on the Palestinian Authority's plan to declare statehood at the United Nations in September, the congressmen assert that the PA is outwardly defying the conditions put forth by the United States and its allies for continued American support.
"With this agreement, it has made an unequivocal decision that its route to a potential state cannot include peace with Israel," write the congressmen. "Nor will it include negotiations with Israel; a disavowal of and crackdown on terrorism or any official recognition of the Jewish state…What a slap in the face to the Obama administration."
Additionally, Cantor and Roskam urge President Obama to take a firm stance against the newly formed Palestinian government, warning that the reconciliation deal will not cause Hamas to moderate itself, but will rather allow the group's radical ideologies to further permeate the PA-controlled West Bank, turning it into yet another "virtual terrorist state" like Gaza on Israel's borders.
They conclude, "The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement empowers Hamas terrorists and endangers Israel. The U.S. must use every tool in our diplomatic arsenal to make clear that we will not tolerate a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. It is our duty, as leader of the free world, to do no less."