-By Rep. Eric Cantor and Rep. Peter Roskam
As the news of Osama bin Laden’s death spread, the free world breathed a deep sigh of relief and praised the United States for its accomplishment.
But in the Palestinian territories, such sentiments were not shared.
In the eyes of Ismail Haniyeh and the infamous Hamas terrorist organization he leads, the operation “marks the continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.” Really? If killing the man responsible for the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history — not to mention the aggressor who did more to subjugate and kill fellow Muslims who disagree with his worldview than perhaps any other individual on earth — makes us oppressors, then how would Hamas describe bin Laden?
Haniyeh didn’t hold back. “We condemn the assassination of a Muslim and Arab warrior,” he proclaimed, “and we pray to God that his soul rests in peace.”
Fitting, coming from a terrorist organization whose founding charter instructs, “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him.”
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 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?
These are questions the U.S. must now address, since Hamas — which controls the Gaza Strip — this month officially joined the Palestinian Authority in a unity government. The PA plans to unilaterally declare a state at the United Nations meeting in September.
With this agreement, it has made an unequivocal decision that its route to a potential state cannot include peace with Israel. Nor will it include negotiations with Israel; a disavowal of and crackdown on terrorism or any official recognition of the Jewish state — a set of conditions demanded by the U.S. and its allies but fiercely opposed by Hamas. What a slap in the face to the Obama administration.
Don’t be fooled by Hamas apologists in the West, who refuse to accept Hamas at its word. Let us not blind ourselves to Hamas’s genocidal outlook. This reconciliation does not mean Hamas will moderate itself. It means the PA is dealing a death blow to a troubled peace process, in which it has seldom demonstrated the courage to engage.
Terror in the Palestinian territories has taken a decisive step forward. Peace is in retreat.
Under the new accord, for the first time, Hamas’s TV broadcasts are to be sent into the West Bank. Shows designed to poison the minds of young Palestinians by lauding the ways of jihad and perpetuating hateful lies about Israel, Jews and the U.S. will likely further radicalize the West Bank.
Remember, these are the same broadcasts that notoriously aired a Mickey Mouse-like cartoon character teaching children to “annihilate the Jews.”
The last time the PA partnered with Hamas, the latter forcibly removed the former from the Gaza Strip and created a virtual terrorist state on Israel’s borders. Six years and thousands of rockets and mortars later, many Israeli civilian communities are still paying the price. The U.S. must not allow this to be repeated in the West Bank.
Given the dire risks this agreement poses to Israel’s security, Washington must draw a hard line and suspend aid to the Palestinian government. U.S. tax dollars have no place going to governments composed of terrorists.
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gets set to visit Washington this week, the PA has made its move against peace. It has embraced a regime of terror — one that mourns bin Laden’s death — even as it now hopes for the U.N. to unilaterally grant it a state in a vote this coming September. The Obama administration must stand united with the American people, and with Israel, to oppose this vote.
In a dangerous region, Israel is a democratic ally bound to us by a shared set of beliefs in freedom, peace and human progress. Serving on the front lines of the struggle against terrorism and Iranian-backed aggression, Israel is our vital strategic asset that provides stability to a volatile neighborhood.
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.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is House majority leader. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) is chief deputy whip.