Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I wish to take a brief moment to speak to the issue of U.S. foreign assistance for the West Bank and Gaza.
Hamas's victory at the polls poses immediate challenges to the United States, the European Union, and other countries and organizations that provide humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinian people. Perhaps frustrated with the corruption of the ruling Fatah Party, the slow pace of reforms, or, more darkly, supportive of indiscriminate violence against innocent Israeli men, women, and children through terrorist attacks on Israeli soil, Palestinians cast their ballots for an organization that supports terrorism and rejects Israel's right to exist.
In the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians had a choice between ballots and bullets--and chose both.
As domestic and international observers appear to have deemed the election process as credible, Palestinian leadership choices are now crystal clear. But as President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have already said, the United States will not provide assistance to a foreign terrorist organization.
The ball is now in Hamas's court. Either its leadership will renounce terrorism and violence against Israel in both word and deed, recognize Israel's right to exist, and--in President Bush's words--be a ``partner in peace''--or they will come to the harsh realization that governance in the territories absent foreign aid is an impossible task. In the past, American taxpayers have paid for Palestinian private sector development, health, community services, and higher education. This generous support is now in real jeopardy.
As the chairman of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee, I intend to continue to follow developments in the region closely and to work with the administration and others to determine the best and most appropriate course of action regarding the provision of U.S. foreign assistance in the wake of the Palestinian elections.
To paraphrase the Israeli diplomat and politician Abba Eban, Hamas literally cannot afford to miss this opportunity to renounce terrorism, recognize Israel, and embrace responsible governance. If they do that, they will find the missed opportunity very costly.