U.S. Jewish Lobby Fights Bill That Would Stop Aid to PA

NEW YORK - U.S. Jewish group Israel Policy Forum (IPF) is lobbying Congressmen against a bill that would prohibit any non-humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority once Hamas takes over.

The bill, sponsored by Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and California Democrat Tom Lantos, would require a presidential override for reasons of national security, in order to transfer any funds or have any dealings with a Hamas-led PA.

The bi-partisan bill would also revoke PA-rights to representation of any kind in Washington.

IPF leadership sent a letter earlier this week to every Congressman beseeching them not to support the bill. IPF President Seymour Reich and Vice President Karen Adler say the move wouldn't "satisfactorily foster the national security needs of the United States, including the security and welfare of the State of Israel."

The letter continues "Congressional leaders must remain cognizant that the Palestinian perception of U.S. policy will have a direct impact on the efficacy of our actions."

According to the lobby's letter to legislators, "If American measures are perceived as punitive rather than preventative they will undermine our country's goals of advancing peace and democracy in the region."

IPF does say "a primary purpose of any action taken by Congress must be to prevent the Palestinian Authority and other entities from using American funds to advance the goals or methods of Hamas or other rejectionists."

Reich told Haaretz this week that the bill is too "tough and draconian." Reich went on to say that "we have no opposition to the central conception expressed in the bill, however we feel its sponsors have failed in its inflexibility and ability to offer presidential override options when the administration finds appropriate in the future."