U.S. State Dept. in Verbal Gymnastics to Justify Support of Hamas-Fatah Unity Pact After Rockets Strike Israel
by Joshua Levitt
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Wednesday engaged in an “amazing, Alice in Wonderland-quality exchange,” in the words of blogger Elder of Ziyon, of verbal gymnastics to defend the U.S. government’s support of the newly formed Fatah-Hamas unity government.
In a transcript of her press briefing, Psaki insisted that the new government that would rule the Palestinian Authority under PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was purely technocratic, justifying the U.S. support for the regime claiming Hamas was not actually part of the government.
But then Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked how there could be a unity government, in essence, the unification of Hamas and Fatah, without Hamas playing role?
Psaki said that a rocket attack that struck Israel from Gaza on Wednesday would not have any bearing on the U.S. decision to support the PA and continue to fund the regime.
“Obviously, we’re concerned about it and we condemn it in the strongest terms. But his – President Abbas’s ability to impact these type of attacks is really severely limited at this point in time,” she said.
Lee responded: “Well, yeah… that’s part of the entire problem with agreeing to go along and work with a government, is it not? I mean, the Israelis said the whole time that these attacks are going to continue. If you recognize that his ability is extremely limited to prevent this kind of thing, for there to be security cooperation between him, his government, and the Israelis, how is it that you made the leap to go ahead and say, ‘All right, this is a government that we can do business with?'”
After she responded that was the case, Lee insisted: “Then I don’t understand why… I mean, if you think that this guy doesn’t have control over everyone who is either a member of or is backing his unity government, why would you do business with it? Why would you give it money?”
“I mean, if you were one part of – I don’t know, one segment of the Israeli society, political society or otherwise, you could, if you hold Abbas responsible for this attack, hold the United States, in a sense, responsible for this attack because you guys are just continuing to support the unity government.”
Pskai said: “Well, as you know, there are no members of Hamas in the technocratic unity government – technocratic government, I should call it, which is the accurate term for it. That is one of our criteria for continuing to provide assistance.”
Lee asked, “But if Hamas feels that it can shoot rockets from Gaza into Israel with impunity and this has no effect whatsoever, for example, on its ability to form a unity government with the PA, even if there are no Hamas members in the actual government – you have a disincentive that you could use here, which would be to stop dealing with the unity government or to stop funding it, and that might tell Hamas, ‘Well, maybe we should think twice about sending rockets in.’ But the way you’ve cast it, they can send an unlimited number of rockets in and they can still be supportive of this unity government and you’ll still give the unity government and the PA money.”
Pskai responded: “Well, we made a decision as the United States Government that our assistance to the Palestinian Authority is important to the United States. And so that’s why it is continuing. And they did – have met the criteria, including the Quartet principles that have been laid out. We will be judging this government by its actions and we will address issues as needed moving forward, but nothing has changed at this point in time.”
Then, after describing how Hamas plays no role in this technocratic government, Psaki, in response to another question, said: “I think we’re all familiar with the connection between Hamas and Gaza and how they control Gaza.”