Hamas Sanctions Bill Will Not Secure Peace in The Region

H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, aspires to promote democratic institutions in areas under control of the Palestinian Authority. In reality, it does little to advance the prospects for sustainable peace in the region, and it weakens the Nation's capacity to protect its own interests.

Surely the international community hopes to achieve a sustainable peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This bill, however, places onerous preconditions on the Palestinian Authority that will make it more difficult for the Authority to return to negotiations with U.S. and Israeli authorities. These preconditions would be unachievable in the short term, and they marginalize Palestinian moderates that already support a peace process and a dual-state solution. In this scenario, extremists would have little incentive to moderate their views, and moderates would become frustrated over the inability to move toward peace.

Under current law, when national security interests are at stake, the president has the authority to waive any sanctions. However, H.R. 4681 would eliminate the President's authority to waive sanctions in the interests of national security. It would diminish the President's capacity to respond to humanitarian or security crises, and hinder his ability to offer incentives for the purpose of negotiation.

Furthermore, at a time when the UN is reporting an impending humanitarian disaster in the West Bank and Gaza, H.R. 4681 restricts US assistance to the alestinian people delivered through non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Today, 60 percent of all Palestinians - a figure that rises to 80 percent in parts of the Gaza Strip - live below the poverty line. Unemployment stands at 53 percent of the total workforce. I object in the strongest terms to any measures that will increase the humanitarian crisis of the Palestinian people.

The recent Palestinian legislative elections have created a tense situation in the international community, a situation that demands thoughtful and deliberate action in pursuit of peace. I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and all legislation that does not advance peace between the Palestinian and Israeli people.

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