WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States will "reexamine" its aid to the Palestinians in the event of a power-sharing deal that includes the Islamist Hamas movement, a key US lawmaker warned Thursday.
"If a power-sharing agreement with a terrorist organization becomes a reality in the Palestinian territories, the US will be forced to reexamine our aid to the Palestinian Authority," said Republican Representative Kay Granger.
Granger, who chairs the House of Representatives subcommittee that controls US foreign aid, issued the statement through her office while on a trip to the Middle East for talks with Israeli and Egyptian officials.
Her comments came as the Palestinian leadership welcomed a surprise deal to end decades of Fatah-Hamas hostility, in an accord which Israel denounced as crossing "a red line."
The deal, announced in Cairo on Wednesday, saw the secular Fatah party which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Gaza's Islamist rulers agree to form a transitional government ahead of polls within a year.
The announcement provoked a chorus of condemnation from the Israeli leadership, which said it would harm chances for peace.
"Recent reports of a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah demonstrate how quickly events are changing throughout the region and reinforce the need for continuous oversight and evaluation of US investments," said Granger.
Her comments came a day after House International Affairs Committee chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, warned that a deal including Hamas, branded by Washington as a terrorist group, would automatically cut off US aid.
"US taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten US security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel," she said.
Ros-Lehtinen, also a Republican, said US law would forbid aid from going to a possible hybrid government because of a measure requiring any Palestinian government to recognize Israel's right to exist as a precondition.
"The Israeli and Palestinian people are eager for peace, but support for this type of PA (Palestinian Authority) government is not the way to get there," she said.