And Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has the juice to cut off the funds, she chairs the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.
(Fox News) — Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for the U.S. government to cut off aid to the Palestinians after the government in the West Bank reached a tentative unity agreement with Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group.
The calls from top-ranking members of Congress were laced with warnings that the U.S. risks financing terrorist operatives if aid continues. Significantly, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., noted that a 2006 law conditions U.S. aid on the requirement that its Palestinian recipients renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Those requirements were fulfilled when aid was going to the Palestinian Authority, controlled by the West Bank-based Fatah. But rocket-firing Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, does not abide by those conditions.
Ros-Lehtinen and others said a sudden partnership between the two halves of the divided Palestinian government would mean U.S. assistance must cease.
“U.S. taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten U.S. security, our interests and our vital ally, Israel,” she said in a written statement. “According to existing U.S. law, such a hybrid government cannot be a recipient of U.S. taxpayer funds because the law stipulates that the PA government must recognize the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist, among other things.
“Therefore, in order to implement existing law, the U.S. must end assistance to the Palestinian Authority,” she said.
That’s not a small amount of money. The president’s 2012 budget request calls for $513 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, an increase over past years.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a true friend to the Jewish state.