CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, July 6, 2011, the House is scheduled consider H.Res. 268 under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) on May 13, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
H.Res. 268 would reaffirm support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states: a democratic Jewish state of Israel and a democratic Palestinian state living in peace and mutual recognition. The legislation would also state that any Palestinian unity government must forswear terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with Israel.
Additionally, the legislation would oppose any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, and urges Palestinian leaders to cease efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including through a unilateral declaration of statehood or by seeking recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations or the United Nations (UN). The legislation would support the Administration’s opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
The legislation would also affirm that Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations will harm U.S.-Palestinian relations and will have implications for U.S. assistance programs for the Palestinians and the Palestinians Authority (PA). Lastly, the legislation would reaffirm the U.S. statutory requirement precluding assistance to a PA that includes Hamas unless that PA and all its ministers accept Israel's right to exist as well as all prior agreements and understandings with the United States and Israel.
The policy of the United States since 2002 has been to support a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is widely acknowledged that a true and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties and acceptance of each other’s right to exist.
However, the unity agreement signed by Fatah and Hamas on May 4, 2011, was reached without Hamas being required to renounce violence, accept Israel’s right to exist, and accept prior agreements made by the Palestinians (the ‘‘Quartet conditions’’). Hamas is an organization responsible for the death of more than 500 innocent civilians, including 24 United States citizens, and has been designated by the United States Government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Hamas continues to forcefully reject the possibility of peace with Israel.
Palestinian abandonment of the Quartet conditions and inclusion of Hamas in a government would jeopardize the positive steps the Palestinian Authority has taken in building institutions and improving security in the West Bank in recent years. Additionally, efforts to form a unity government without accepting the Quartet conditions, to bypass negotiations and unilaterally declare a Palestinian state, or to appeal to the United Nations or other international forums, or directly to foreign governments for recognition of a Palestinian state, violate the underlying principles of the Oslo Accords, the Road Map, and other relevant Middle East peace process agreements, all of which require resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct negotiations only.
While United States aid to the Palestinians is predicated on a good faith commitment from the Palestinians to the peace process including direct negotiations with Israel, current United States law precludes assistance to a
Palestinian Authority which shares power with Hamas unless that Authority publicly accepts Israel’s right to exist and adheres to all prior agreements and understandings with the United States and Israel.
On April 22, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated, ‘‘We will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agreed to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority.’’ The United States annually provides more than $550 million annually and has provided more than $3.5 billion cumulatively in direct bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world’s largest recipients of foreign aid per capita.
There is no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate available for this legislation.