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House International Affairs Committee Hearing 3-2-06

Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2006 18:03:10 -0500
Subject: House International Affairs Committee Hearing 3-2-06
   I attended. Room packed. Subject was Palestinian situation and USG
policy. Adjourned for a House vote after an hour and a half. I did not
return. Began with members trying to outdo each other with uniform and
tough bashing of Palestinians, especially Hamas, with little variation
in language. All supported administration position of having nothing to
do with Hamas unless and until they meet the three announced conditions.
All welcomed total cutoff of funds to any PA headed by Hamas, welcomed
demand for return of pitiful amount of funds previously provided by USG,
joined in chorus of criticism of any country providing funds, even Arab
countries (example cited: nefarious UAE--tied in with ports
controversy). No concern expressed for humanitarian situation of
destitute Palestinians, no worry that likely result will be chaos and
increased violence. Unstated wish was to punish voters for having voted
for Hamas.
   Three witnesses were allowed to read 5-minute prepared statements:
Ambassador Welch on US policy, Mr. Kunder on aid programs, General
Dayton on security situation and measures. Then  questions from members.
Low point was question of General by Lantos about smuggling of weapons
into Gaza through Rafah, something that of course doesn't exist,  but
Lantos showed his concern, as mildly also did the General. Exposition of
our current policy demonstrated that it is now bankrupt. In accordance
with our project of promoting democacy in the Middle East the
Palestinians produced a notably free and fair election. We refuse to
accept the results. Secretary Rice has been going around the area
telling governments to have nothing to do with Hamas, to give no support
or even have contact. Our ambassadors around the world (Welch disclosed)
have been instructed to tell their host governments to adopt our policy,
which is that we are forbidden to have any contact with organizations we
have labeled terrorist. Our aim is to completely isolate Hamas and any
government it is a part of, and to starve the people governed by any
such government.
   Was it not predictable that any free and fair democratic election in
an Arab country would bring to power a party inimical to our interests,
that is, the interests of Israel? Because the Arab people, given a free
vote,  cannot be intimidated by us the way their undemocratic and
unelected governments can be? We are making fools of ourselves, which is
as embarrassing as it is destructive. This is not the path to peace.
Oslo and the Road Map are dead! Have long been dead. Long live the Arab
Peace Initiative. More on that later. But for now the self-assigned
mediators should resign from the job they have botched for the past 40
years. The Palestinians should now launch their own peace plan, confirm
the generous offer that they endorsed when it was tabled at the Arab
League Summit in Beirut in March 2002 (Henry Kissinger should get a
better research assistant as he got the date off by a year), and set a
deadline for acceptance by the Israelis, after which it would be
withdrawn if not accepted.
   Just what is this insistence on the recognition that Israel exists?
Of course it exists. The real question is: nearly 60 years after the
1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine, does a Palestinian state exist
anywhere in the world, recognized by anyone, and if not, whose fault is
that? Of course we know the answer: It's the Palestinians' fault! Give
me a break.

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Robert V. Keeley
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