After Israel was recently forced to suspend peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), American credibility in the Middle East took another devastating blow. The Obama administration’s insistence that the PA was a legitimate peace partner crumbled following Fatah’s proposed unity government with Hamas.
Now, U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk has doubled down on our failed policy and claims that Palestinian statehood must happen, either through violence or a usurping of long-standing policy by seeking recognition from the United Nations. This stance represents a monumental shift in U.S. policy and will force Israel to both withdraw to indefensible lines and accept a Palestinian state bent on Israel’s destruction.
During the peace talks, the Obama administration’s messaging campaign was a coordinated attempt to paint Israel as obstinate and highlighted settlements that put Israel on the defensive. Meanwhile, the impression was given that the PA acted as a sympathetic partner despite its long-standing history of anti-Semitic and violent rhetoric and actions.
The Palestinians assisted the Nazis during World War II, sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, joined the Muslim Brotherhood in fighting proxy wars within Israel and abroad, purchased illegal weapons from Iran, and now has officially joined with the designated terrorist organization Hamas. Yet, the Obama administration continues to argue that the PA is the only party interested in a peaceful Palestinian state that stands side-by-side with Israel.
Under Yasser Arafat and the current and unelected President Mahmoud Abbas, the PA has never abandoned violence and has rejected statehood agreements in any capacity. Washington policy experts should be well versed in this reality, as there are countless examples that a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel has never been an objective of the PA. As evidenced by the unity government, it also appears that a peaceful coexistence is not a priority, either.
Cementing this fear is the unity government’s refusal to honor current bilateral security agreements with Israel and its failure to repudiate the use of violence as a strategy, as stated in the Fatah governing charter.
The danger of this new threat posed by Fatah-Hamas cannot be overstated, nor can the direct challenge to current global stability. Billions in aid and investment that the United States and international community provide annually are now at risk of directly funding terrorist campaigns that have historically been waged against civilians.
Since the 1950s, the United States has given more than $4 billion in bilateral aid to the PA in the form of U.S. Agency for International Development assistance and non-lethal defense agreements. The specific intention of this aid is to support the creation of democratic institutions and improve security to counteract the influence and military presence of Hamas.
The United States has also given billions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, only to have the condition of Palestinians worsen over time rather than improve.
After decades, America’s investments in the PA have failed to accomplish their stated goals. Furthermore, the Obama administration’s persistent support of the PA, despite its embrace of violence, damages America’s credibility both domestically and internationally.
The Fatah-Hamas unity government should elicit a shift in United States policy toward the region. To provide certainty and transparency moving forward, all foreign-aid programs to the PA must be re-examined, and, in the event of a finalized unity government, halted immediately.
In an exceedingly dangerous world, America cannot continue to assist our enemies at the expense of our allies.
Rep. Michele Bachmann. Minnesota Republican, is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.