U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, released the following statement today ahead of this week's upcoming visit by Palestinian Authority representative, Muhammad Ashtiya, and Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee member, Saed Erekat, to the White House and State Department. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Though I welcome the idea of Israel and the PA returning to the negotiating table to try to come to a real solution for peace, I'm hesitant to believe that Abu Mazen is truly seeking to restart negotiations with Israel. We've been down this road before and actions speak louder than words.
But even as Abu Mazen sends his representatives to the United States, claiming they are willing to sit back down at the negotiating table with Israel, the PA continues to meet with Hamas, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, in attempts to reconcile and form a consensus Palestinian government. By extending an open hand to Hamas while refusing to sit with Israel at the negotiating table, Abu Mazen proves he is more interested in harming Israel than he is in having direct negotiations that could lead to peace.
Earlier this month, I held a congressional hearing and reiterated my concerns about a possible Fatah-Hamas unity government. It's time for the Administration to make it clear to the PA that any consensus government that includes members of Hamas is a non-starter and not negotiable.
The Administration should not be sending millions in hard-earned U.S. taxpayer dollars to the PA when it continues to embrace Hamas and treats our foreign aid like an entitlement. It must condition that aid and hold the PA accountable for its aggressive actions against our ally, Israel, and it must call on Abu Mazen to demonstrate that he is a real partner in peace."
NOTE: During the 112th Congress, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen placed a hold on funds for the Palestinian Authority. In addition, last year Ros-Lehtinen was the author of H.R. 2829, the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011, which would cut off funding to any UN entity that recognizes a Palestinian state or upgrades in any way the status of the Palestinian observer mission at the UN prior to the achievement of a complete and final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.