(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Assistant Secretary of State of Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson assured a subcommittee of House of Foreign Affairs that Palestinian Authority (PA) will stop receiving US aid if Hamas found to be involved with PA or receiving any funds.
"No US governmental money will go into any government that includes Hamas until Hamas accepts the Quartet conditions," said Patterson to the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee hearing titled, "The Administration's FY 2015 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Budget Request: Priorities, Objectives and Challenges" The Quartet comprised of the UN, EU, Russia and US, outlined principles that a Palestinian state must recognize Israel, follow previous diplomatic agreements and renounce violence. Due to Hamas' violation of all three principles the US classifies the group as a terrorist organization. When Hamas reconciled with Fatah last Wednesday this halted the US backed Middle East Peace talks.
Chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen drafted the Palestinian Antiterrorism Act in 2006 which prohibits assistance to Palestinian "terrorist governments." She said, "The law is clear. The US cannot send funds to a Palestinian government that includes members of the terrorist group Hamas." She criticized Secretary of State John Kerry on comments that he has since denied making claiming that Israel is an apartheid state, "These remarks are offensive and are beneath the office of the highest-ranking US government diplomat." Patterson advocated that, "I wouldn't want to throw out the entire Palestinian Authority over a discussion with Hamas, because historically it's not gone anywhere. The Palestinian Authority needs our support." Patterson stressed, "the (USD) 70 million that we have asked for in the budget is essentially for advanced and refresher training to teach the Palestinian police skills like forensics and advanced criminal investigation and to bring back their leadership to middle management and refresh their skills." She added, "I think fundamentally the support for the Palestinian Authority is in our interest to have a peaceful area, now quite peaceful, adjacent to Israel, patrolled by well-trained Palestinian police." Some of the representatives were not convinced that sending aid to the PA would avoid falling into Hamas accounts. A representative from Texas, Randy Weber responded, "the revelation that they were paying terrorists who had Israeli blood on their hands, and some American blood on their hands as well, and others, is just incomprehensible to me." Patterson affirmed, "It would be a disaster, of course, if Hamas would somehow be integrated into the security forces, but I think the chances of that are remote." Representative Bradley Schneider of Illinois said, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud "Abbas can make a choice. Does he work towards peace and negotiations, true negotiations, with the Israelis, or does he turn to Hamas? And he made that choice, and he made that choice before the deadline, as we said today, when the negotiations came to an end." Patterson asserted, "I think the relations between Fatah and Hamas are not good. And I think one reason that President Abbas enters into these discussions is to try and limit Hamas and essentially clip their wings in Gaza." She argued, "We need to work with those people we can work with to try and, one, moderate the government and build a grassroots movement and then build some kind of economic system going forward so we won't have to provide all this assistance in the future." Today also marks the date when Kerry hoped to have a framework in place for further rounds of negotiations. To this point, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters in a press briefing, "We're in a holding period, where parties will figure out what they want to do next. We continue to strongly encourage both sides not to take escalatory steps. It remains up to the parties to determine whether there is a process forward."