U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today commented on remarks by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana which softened the EU's approach towards the Islamist militant group Hamas. Solana's remarks proposed including Hamas in Middle East peace talks as a legitimate segment of the Palestinian Authority without first requiring that Hamas renounce violence and dismantle its militant infrastructure, accept existing peace accords, and recognize Israel's right to exist. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Any appeasement of Hamas while it embraces violence against civilians and denies Israel's right to exist emboldens those whose goals of destroying Israel and imposing authoritarian rule are irreconcilable with peace.
"Diluting the existing preconditions for engagement with Hamas would elevate Hamas's stature and pollute any negotiations with a hateful ideology which sabotages the search for regional peace and security.
"The new Administration must reaffirm the preconditions contained in the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, and re-commit to international agreements regarding the engagement of Hamas which mandate that Hamas first accept Israel's right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state, adhere to past agreements concluded between Israel and the Palestinians, and dismantle its violent and incendiary infrastructure."