Florida Delegation United Against Hamas
Around the State
As tensions in the Middle East continue to rise, members of the Florida congressional delegation are calling on President Barack Obama to cut off foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority due to its ties to Hamas.
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., demanded to know on Monday why the administration continues funding even as Hamas is recognized as a terrorist group by the federal government.
“With so many crises enveloping the Obama administration, why is the State Department so intent on continuing to fund the Hamas-Fatah unity government?” DeSantis asked. “Hamas has long been officially designated as a terrorist organization, yet the administration feebly claims that the unity government is simply a ‘technocratic’ government in which Hamas doesn't exercise "undue" influence -- even though a torrent of terrorist rocket fire is raining down on Israeli civilian population centers. This position is not only at variance with common sense, it is contrary to the public position of 88 out of 100 U.S. senators, not to mention the wishes of the American people.
“Hamas not only engages in terrorism but actually uses its own civilians as human shields. The contrast is stark: whereas Israel is engaging Hamas in order to protect its own people, Hamas is willing to endanger civilians in the Gaza Strip if it means being able to launch more terror attacks and to score more propaganda points,” DeSantis added. “The U.S. taxpayer should not be forced to underwrite Hamas' campaign of terror.”
DeSantis has not been alone in the Florida delegation in calling on Obama to stop funding the Palestinian Authority. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, met Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer at the end of last week. After the meeting, Ros-Lehtinen pledged to continue to support Israel in its fight with Hamas and urged Obama to do the same.
“These are critical times for Israel, and I reiterated to Ambassador Dermer my firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against ongoing attacks by the terrorist group Hamas,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Friday. “No other country in the world would allow these terrorist attacks to continue without taking action. It is appalling that Abu Mazen would accuse Israel of committing genocide when it is Hamas that is using Palestinian women and children as human shields and when it is Israel that is taking every precaution in its response, out of self-defense, to limit civilian casualties. I call on the international community to unilaterally condemn the gross violation of human rights being committed by Hamas.
“Abu Mazen is not interested in peace or else he would demand that Hamas stop firing rockets targeting innocent civilians in Israel and endangering the lives of Palestinian women and children,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “Abu Mazen's inability to stop these horrid tactics demonstrates that he is either incapable of leading the Palestinian people or that he supports such tactics. Abu Mazen is no partner for peace, and he must completely cut off the unity government with Hamas. The Congress stands firmly in support of Israel as it defends itself and I hope the Obama administration will take a clear stance in defense of our ally, the democratic Jewish state of Israel, at this crucial time.”
On the other side of the aisle, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee also continues to defend Israel.
“I've been thinking tonight about what Washington -- or Coral Springs or Boynton Beach or Wellington -- would be like if these places in my life in the U.S. were being bombarded with rockets, what America would be like tonight if hundreds of rockets were being launched into our towns with the twin goals of terror and murder,” Deutch noted last week. “This is what Israel is enduring -- in every part of the country. They are acting to defend themselves just as we would.
“Think about the past week and how Hamas' war on Israel has affected life in the Middle East and how we talk about it,” Deutch added. "We just condemned the killings of three innocent Israeli teens. We also condemned the killing of an innocent Palestinian teen. Even as people of goodwill continue to mourn these losses, terrorists rain down rockets on southern Israel, Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem, one of the holiest places in the world for three religions. And Hamas uses civilians to guard and hide their rockets and rocket launchers.
“These heinous acts of terror provide some much-needed clarity for the world,” Deutch concluded. “Hamas' terror war on Israel violates international law and international norms. Israel must be able to defend herself and her people against these indiscriminate terror attacks. And free countries like ours, nations who want peace, must support Israel's efforts to provide peace for its people. Just imagine a rocket siren sounding in your neighborhood tonight.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.