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APN: Palestinian Reconciliation Deal is an Opportunity for Obama

Abbas_Obama_Cartoon186x140.jpgWashington, DC -- APN today welcomed news of a Fatah-Hamas deal.  To the degree that the agreement provides for elections and a joint government, this is an opportunity that the Obama administration should not squander.  Commenting on today's development, APN President and CEO Debra DeLee stated:

"Today's announcement of a Fatah-Hamas deal to jointly form a government and to hold new elections is good news, and we hope that the agreement is implemented.  While we still don't know all the details of the agreement, we know that a Palestinian government representing all Palestinians, with security and governance capacity in both the West Bank and Gaza, is vital to the achievement of a peace agreement.


"Clearly, it would be preferable if Hamas -- a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization with a long history of bloody attacks on Israel -- could be completely wished away.  However, five years of U.S., Israeli, and international efforts to sideline Hamas have failed.  The reality today is that the Gaza-West Bank split is a hurdle to peace efforts, raising questions about the capacity of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to implement an agreement.

"For years the U.S. has made the mistake of opposing Palestinian reconciliation rather than encouraging it; it should not compound this mistake by wasting this opportunity to engage a new Palestinian government. It should do so making clear that U.S. relations with this government -- including decisions about the future of our foreign assistance program for the Palestinians -- will be based solely on the positions and actions of the government.  Unfortunately, there are many in Israel and the U.S., including inside the Netanyahu government and the Obama Administration, who will try to spin today's announcement as evidence that the Palestinian Authority is not a partner in peace.  Such a reaction is at best mistaken; at worst it is a cynical pretext for not negotiating peace.


"This reconciliation announcement bolsters the conclusion that now is the time for President Obama to redouble his own commitment to peace.  By laying out his own plan for peace -- including presenting substantive peace parameters and his plan of action for moving forward -- Obama has the opportunity to re-assert credible U.S. leadership, to forestall action at the UN in September, and to take the true measure of both the Israeli and the Palestinian governments' commitments to peace.  He should not miss this opportunity."

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APN recently issued an Action Plan for President Obama, laying out specific recommendations for how he should move forward.  That plan can be read here.