Officials in Jerusalem were surprised by a report in the L.A. Times Monday that the Obama administration has asked Congress to amend U.S. law to enable the Palestinian Authority to receive federal aid even if Hamas joins a unity coalition.

"Every step that strengthens Hamas only distances peace. In the event that the report is true, it is painful and worrying," a political source in Jerusalem said Monday.

Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces in a bloody 2007 coup, has been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. and therefore cannot not legally receive U.S. government aid.

Israeli officials are still attempting to ascertain the intentions of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration. Initial messages relayed to Jerusalem from Washington said there would be no change in policy, only a change in the language used with reference to a Palestinian unity government.

The Jerusalem source added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to raise the matter with Obama, senior officials in his administration and members of Congress during an upcoming visit to the U.S.

The U.S. has presented an $830.4-billion emergency spending bill, comprising funding for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would also allocate $840 million to the Palestinian Authority and for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip following Israel's three-week offensive there earlier this year.