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GI Architects Honored;APN says US Congress Missing the Point on Hamas/Democracy

19.12.05


Memo sent from APN to all house offices prior to vote on H Res 575.
Later today H. Res. 575 is scheduled to come to a vote on the House floor.  This resolution deals with the participation of Hamas in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 25, 2006.  Americans for Peace Now (APN) rejects terror and has consistently called on President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to undertake meaningful, sustained action to stop terrorists and destroy terrorist infrastructure.  APN agrees that the Palestinian Authority must establish "One Authority, One Law, and One Gun."
However, APN believes that this resolution misses the point on both democracy and Hamas. 
APN urges Members, whether or not they vote for the resolution, to speak out during the floor debate and to submit statements for the record drawing attention to the problems with this resolution. 
• Nobody (except the terrorists) is happy with the prospect of Hamas and other terrorist organizations participating in Palestinian elections.  Likewise, few people are happy that Hizballah is an active participant in Lebanon's political process, including a longstanding presence in its parliament and government.  Likewise, few people are happy with the participation of armed militias in elections in Iraq. 
• In the cases of Lebanon and Iraq, however, the decision has been to "not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good."  The goal of eradicating terror and consolidating weapons in the hands of the legal government remains, but the elections were applauded and the process of democratization was not put on hold.  Nobody argued that eradicating terror and establishing "one gun" should, in these cases, be a prerequisite for democratic elections, or threatened that if it was not made a prerequisite, the U.S. relationship with the resulting democratically elected body - and U.S. assistance to its people - would suffer.
• President Abbas is trying to do in the territories what the U.S. has encouraged the government to do in Iraq: absorb militias into the official armed forces in order to make them accountable to official command and control.
• Israel spent nearly three decades trying to defeat Hamas through military means alone, and failed.  Since coming to power less than a year ago, President Abbas has made a very public commitment to take on Hamas and other terrorist organizations after elections - a strategy based on the reasonable assertion that, backed by a democratically-elected parliament, he will have the strength and credibility to move forward with this difficult task.  He should be held to this commitment.
• The reduction of terror against Israeli citizens requires the containment and eventual dismantling of militias, including Hamas.  Israeli General (Ret.) Ephraim Sneh, who served as military governor of the West Bank and Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, recently stated:
"Under current conditions in the Palestinian territories, especially given the Palestinian government's weakness, political containment should precede the dismantling of Hamas's military infrastructure. The urgent objective is to defeat it in the next parliamentary elections. Steps that could strengthen it in the elections should be strictly avoided. Attempts to postpone the elections yet again, or to prevent Hamas's participation, or Israeli disruption of the elections as 'punishment' for the participation of Hamas, will strengthen Hamas in the Palestinian street instead of weakening it.  The short time left before the elections must be used to empower all who oppose Hamas, first and foremost the supporters of the elected Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas."  (Washington Post, October 19, 2005)
• In the countdown to the elections, for the sake of democracy and peace in the Middle East - vital components to Israel's security - the focus should be on strengthening Palestinian moderates, including President Abbas.  Actions that risk elevating the status of Hamas and other extremists should be avoided.
• After the January 25th election, Israel, the Bush Administration, and the international community - as well as the Palestinian people - should hold President Abbas to his commitment, and hold him accountable if he fails to take action.
APN is the premier Jewish, Zionist organization working to enhance Israel's security through peace.  APN believes that strong U.S. leadership is the best hope for reducing Israeli-Palestinian violence and bringing about a political process that can eventually pave the way for security and peace for Israelis and Palestinians.