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When the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas was first announced in April, the US State Department stressed the need for nonviolence in any unity government. At an April 23 press briefing, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated that “our principles on the issue of reconciliation have been consistent for decades. Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties.”
In June, when the “technocratic” unity government was actually formed, the State Department appeared to make its recognition conditional on adherence to those principles, with spokesperson Jen Psaki telling reporters that, “based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government . . . . [the US] will be judging this government by its actions.” Psaki added that “We will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new government, and if needed, we will recalibrate our approach.” From such statements, one would expect that the Obama administration would hold the new government accountable for violence stemming from within the Palestinian territories.
Since rocket fire from Gaza resumed several days ago, both White House and State Department spokespeople have condemned it. It has now become apparent that some members of Fatah, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are participating in the violence. As of yesterday’s press briefing, however, there has been no effort made to hold the Palestinian unity government accountable, and no indication that the administration intends to reconsider the US position on the Hamas government. Although the State Department’s assertion that Hamas does not play a role in the new government is absurd on its face, the US policy of “working with this government” does not appear to have changed.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren has reportedly pointed out that “[r]ight now the administration sees no contradiction between condemning the Hamas rocket fire and maintaining its recognition of the Hamas-Fatah unity government.” The US government currently has some serious questions to answer, such as, how can the government of the United States continue to work with a government that has clearly become a sponsor of terrorism? The very same factions that are currently controlling the Palestinian government are now responsible for rocket fire on major cities. If rockets on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are not sufficient for the US to reconsider its recognition of this Hamas government, what would be?
At this point the US is clearly not holding true to its word that it would “judg[e] this government by its actions.”