(January 5, 2015, Washington, DC) – The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) today applauded U.S. Congressmen for their criticism of the latest actions by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to undermine the peace process in the Middle East.
On Tuesday, December 30, 2014, in blatant disregard for the PA’s Oslo-era promises to resolve any differences with Israel through negotiations, PA President Mahmoud Abbas tried unsuccessfully to have the UN Security Council force an Israeli-Palestinian pact on his terms by a set deadline. When he failed in this attempt, the very next day Abbas applied for standing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza last summer, an action which is also a violation of the Oslo Accords.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Chairwoman of the House Middle East Subcommittee, condemned the PA’s “irresponsible behavior and continued efforts to undermine the peace process.” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called for an “immediate freeze” in U.S. financial support to the PA. The State Department called Abbas’ ICC application an “escalatory step” and “counterproductive.”
Even some Palestinians have recognized the enormity of President Abbas’ actions. Prominent Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki told the New York Times the ICC maneuver “could indeed be the beginning of the end of the PA.” The Times, itself, said Abbas “may have set in motion the collapse” of the PA.
Indeed, President Abbas’s request of the ICC to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza last summer should tip the scales for U.S. Senators and Representatives to immediately act to reduce U.S. aid to the Palestinians. And the State Department should follow up its expressions of disappointment with real steps holding the PA accountable.
Congress has the authority to reduce U.S. funding for the PA. Last month’s stop-gap federal spending bill signed into law by President Obama contained language stipulating that no further State Department economic aid be given to the PA if it “initiates” or supports ICC action against Israel. The fact that the Palestinians’ ICC maneuver is perceived as unlikely to result in real action anytime soon should not save them from consequences. Having acknowledged the PA’s move “badly damages the atmosphere” with Israel, the State Department, along with Congress, ought to make the Palestinians understand that no tactic short of direct negotiations will help them achieve independence.
EMET Founder and President Sarah Stern said of Abbas’ actions, “This is a flagrant disregard, not only of Oslo, but of international law, in which any sovereign state has the right to defend its civilian population when attacked. It is this very right that the Palestinians are challenging by lobbing over 11,000 missiles into Israel and building tunnels, in which to kidnap soldiers and civilians, into their neighborhoods. It is like the classic case of the child who murders his parents and appeals to the court for leniency because he is an orphan.”
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit www.emetonline.org.
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