Liberal US Senator Rebukes Abbas Over Pro-Hamas Stance

Image: Liberal US Senator Rebukes Abbas Over Pro-Hamas Stance Sen. Tim Kaine

Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 12:47 PM

By Joel Himelfarb

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A key U.S. senator has lost his patience with Mahmoud Abbas because the Palestinian Authority leader continues to strongly support Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip and is daily firing rockets at civilian targets inside Israel.

Sen. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, is urging Abbas to cut ties with Hamas, calling the militants a “terrorist organization.”

“No peace is possible with such a partner,” the Virginia Democrat said, after hosting a Senate briefing last week with Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Kaine, a leading advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says he now realizes the Hamas will never accept an Israeli nation living peacefully next to a Palestinian one.

The Times of Israel reported that Kaine, who is endorsed by the controversial Jewish progressive organization J Street, has emerged as a forceful critic of the decision by Abbas to form a Palestinian “unity government” with Hamas.

Kaine’s transformation into a staunch critic of the unity-government between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority came after months of taking a cautious position on the issue.

In June, Kaine was one of only 12 senators who declined to sign a bipartisan Senate letter terming the Palestinian unity-government a “serious setback to efforts to achieve peace.”

They also urged President Obama to suspend assistance to the Palestinian Authority until “we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with the restrictions contained in current law.”  The letter called on Obama to “continue to impress on President Abbas the need for him to cease any alliance with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and to return to the negotiating table with Israel.”

Three months ago, Kaine issued a statement on the unity deal that did not condemn it or urge that it be ended immediately. Taking a position similar to that of the Obama administration, Kaine said it would be best to wait to see if the Abbas/Hamas reconciliation led “to a degradation in Palestinian pledges to live peacefully with Israel.”

Kaine last week made clear he has concluded that it is impossible for Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas and claim to support peace with Israel. The freshman lawmaker invited Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and Israel’s defense attache, Maj. Gen. Yaacob Ayish, to brief senators about Israel military operations against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.

“For those of us who care about finding a two-state solution – a secure state of Israel living peacefully side by side with an independent Palestine – the recent actions by Hamas demonstrate that it has not changed its fundamental denial of Israel’s right to exist,” Mr. Kaine said.

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