|Hamas set to take part in PA elections Photo: AP|
Congress to vote on anti-Hamas resolution
Proposal calls on Palestinian Authority to prevent terror groups from taking part in upcoming elections
The United States Congress is set to vote Thursday on a resolution calling on the Palestinian Authority to prevent Hamas and other terror groups from participating in PA elections scheduled for January, unless the factions announce they are willing to disarm and recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
Should the resolution pass, it may entail harsh consequences for the Palestinian Authority, as it demands the PA introduce steps to dismantle terrorist infrastructures, declaring that a failure to do so will undercut the U.S. capacity of providing financial aid and maintaining normal relations with the Authority.
The proposed resolution was submitted to the House of Representatives by three Republican and three Democratic congressmen.
At the beginning of November, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom have decided not to allow Hamas to take part in the elections, or alternately, "to make every effort not to assist it in participating." Israel's stance on the issue later changed and it was agreed not to interfere with the electoral process even if the terror groups fields its candidates.
The American resolution, which will be put to a vote in Congress Thursday, states that the PA has done nothing to crack down on terror groups, and calls on Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to pledge, prior to the elections, he will act against terror.
In addition, the resolution demands the PA release a statement to the effect of recognizing the peace process requires a consistent Palestinian effort to break down terror infrastructure, and requires the Palestinian parliament to validate its commitment to the security and defense of the democratic State of Israel.
Sources at the senate have also initiated steps recently to prevent terror organizations from being admitted into the Palestinian parliament. Senate members have signed a letter to be addressed to President George W. Bush that expresses concern over the participation of terror groups in the elections.
The letter also warns that admitting Hamas members into the legislative council will put strains on peace efforts or make them impossible to pursue altogether. In such a case, the Senate letter states, the U.S. and other countries will be forced to reexamines their relations with the PA.
Meanwhile, Israel's Ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon published on Thursday a statement saying that Israel staunchly objects to the participation of Hamas in the elections, in apparent contradiction to Sharon’s more conciliatory tone.
Hamas is a ruthless terror organization, founded on the basis of the destruction of Israel, Ayalon stated, adding that Hamas has made it clear it refuses to disarm, and that it has so far failed to do so.
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