Casey, Ayotte Lead 88 Senators in Letter Opposing Hamas and Warning Against Unilateral Palestinian Initiatives that Would Derail Future Peace Talks

Letter Presses Administration to Prevent Hamas from Rebuilding Military Capabilities and Calls for Gaza Demilitarization / Warns Against Palestinian Steps at United Nations and International Criminal Court that Threaten Peace Negotiations

Casey, Ayotte Lead 88 Senators in Letter Opposing Hamas and Warning Against Unilateral Palestinian Initiatives that Would Derail Future Peace Talks

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced that they’ve led a letter signed by 88 senators to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Administration to take steps to ensure that no assistance is diverted to Hamas, support the Palestinian Authority’s effort to govern in Gaza, and discourage Palestinian unilateral measures at the United Nations and International Criminal Court that bypass direct negotiations and undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The senators wrote, “As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives:  (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The full text of the senators’ letter is below:

The Honorable John Kerry

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,

We were pleased to see that Hamas finally accepted an Egyptian cease-fire plan last month.  Sadly, Hamas continued its attacks on Israel for weeks after Egypt’s initial proposal, leading to unnecessary and increased suffering in Gaza and Israel. 

As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives:  (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

First, we fully support the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.  We must also condition reconstruction assistance on the establishment of a system to prevent Hamas from rearming and rebuilding its military capability.  In the past, Hamas has diverted construction materials intended for civilian use to the construction of the tunnel networks that were used during this last conflict to smuggle weapons and attack Israelis. We must support Israeli and Egyptian efforts to implement strict, comprehensive controls so that no assistance is diverted to Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.  The international community has twice spent billions to rebuild Gaza, only to see Hamas transform economic assistance into the means of war.  For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, we cannot let this happen again.  Ultimately, we must seek Gaza’s demilitarization.

Second, we must support efforts to enable the Palestinian Authority to exercise real power in Gaza.  Hamas has demonstrated conclusively both that it has no interest in peace with Israel and that it has no concern for the well-being of Gaza residents.  Meanwhile, the West Bank has experienced periods of significant relative economic growth and stability, in part due to cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces there.  All Palestinians deserve a government that will seek to advance their safety and prosperity—not use them as human shields.  Real peace between Israelis and Palestinians will require a Palestinian partner that controls the West Bank and Gaza, is focused on economic development and stability in both areas, and will accept Gaza’s demilitarization.  We must start this process now.

Third, while we work with the Palestinian Authority to extend its effective jurisdiction to Gaza, we must work equally hard to ensure that Palestinian officials do not take further harmful steps at the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, or the International Criminal Court.  The Palestinian Authority must avoid steps that would undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  We must let Palestinian Authority President Abbas know that America’s willingness to cooperate with him will continue to depend on his willingness to return to the negotiating table with the Government of Israel and avoid unilateral measures that bypass direct negotiations.

We look forward to working with you on these critical matters, as our nation strives both to prevent another Hamas-instigated war and to create the conditions that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to move closer to peace.  

                                                                       

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Kelly A. Ayotte

James M. Inhofe

Richard Blumenthal

Susan M. Collins

Edward J. Markey

Mike Crapo

Joe Manchin III

Pat Roberts

Jeanne Shaheen

Jeff Flake

Tim Kaine

David Vitter

Michael F. Bennet

John Boozman

Kirsten Gillibrand

John Thune

Tim Johnson

Jerry Moran

Debbie Stabenow

Roy Blunt

Patty Murray

John McCain

Kay R. Hagan

James E. Risch

Mark Begich

Marco Rubio

Ron Wyden

Patrick J. Toomey

Barbara Boxer

Dean Heller

Benjamin L. Cardin

John Barrasso

Mark Udall

Richard Burr

Mazie K. Hirono

Lindsey O. Graham

Brian Schatz

Mitch McConnell

Amy Klobuchar

Thad Cochran

Heidi Heitkamp

Deb Fischer

Jon Tester

John Cornyn

Sherrod Brown

Rob Portman

Mark L. Pryor

Michael B. Enzi

Barbara A. Mikulski

Mark Kirk

Maria Cantwell

Lamar Alexander

Martin Heinrich

Orrin G. Hatch

Mary L. Landrieu

Tim Scott

Tom Udall

Roger F. Wicker

Tom Carper

John Hoeven

Charles E. Schumer

Mike Lee

Joe Donnelly

Chuck Grassley

Al Franken

Ted Cruz

Christopher A. Coons

Johnny Isakson

Sheldon Whitehouse

Mike Johanns

Cory Booker

Ron Johnson

Carl Levin

Saxby Chambliss

Bill Nelson

Dan Coats

Mark R. Warner

Richard Shelby

Angus S. King, Jr.

Claire McCaskill

John Walsh

Richard J. Durbin

Chris Murphy

Robert Menendez

Jack Reed

Dianne Feinstein

Jeff Merkley

 

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Press Contact

John Rizzo (Casey) 202-228-6367
Liz Johnson (Ayotte) 202-224-3324