Senators to Obama: 'Gravely Concerned' Over Palestinian Unity

88 senators write U.S. president Palestinian government backed by Hamas poses 'serious setbacks to effort to achieve peace.'

Hamas hold national flags as they march in Gaza City to mark one year since Israel Gaza operation
Hamas hold national flags as they march in Gaza City to mark one year since Pillar of Defense, Nov. 13, 2013. Reuters

A bipartisan group of 88 senators expressed their concern to U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday over the recent formation of the Palestinian unity government, the result of a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.

According to a letter signed by the senators, the new government "represents a serious setback to efforts to achieve peace."

The senators also expressed grave concern that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' "renewed effort to upgrade the status of the Palestinians within international organizations will jeopardize direct negotiations with Israel to achieve a two-state solution," and urged Obama to call on Abbas to cease any alliance with Hamas and resume peace talks with Israel.

The senators accused Hamas of not being a "partner for peace," and noted that U.S. law prohibits foreign assistance to Hamas, designated a terrorist organization, or to a government Hamas is party to.

Earlier in June, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the new Palestinian government does not include Hamas members and that the U.S. intends to work with the new government.

"Based on what we know now we intend to work with this government but will be watching closely to ensure that it upholds principles that President Abbas reiterated today," Psaki told a briefing. "But we will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new government and calibrate our approach accordingly."

Psaki said that the new Fatah-Hamas government is an interim technocratic government and added that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed that the new government will respect the terms of the Quartet – recognize Israel, reject terror, and honor previously signed agreements. She said the U.S. will continue to disburse aid to the Palestinian Authority but will monitor its policies.