Last update - 07:52 01/04/2006
U.S. suspends contacts with Hamas-led government
By News Agencies
The United States on Friday announced a new policy on contacts with
Palestinians that bars dealings with officials of Palestinian government
agencies that are controlled by Hamas.
U.S. contacts with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his staff
The Bush administration had made clear in advance that it would have no
dealings with Hamas cabinet ministers because of the organization's refusal to
accept Israel's right to exist and embrace international terms for Middle East
"We've advised our mission in Jerusalem, as well as other missions around the
world that ... there should be no contact between U.S. government officials
and PA officials who are under the authority of the prime minister or any
other minister in the Hamas-led government. This includes working-level
officials in those ministries," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli
told reporters on Friday.
"If they're working in a Hamas-led ministry, no matter what their affiliation
is, we're not going to have contact with them," Ereli said.
The Palestinian cabinet headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and
endorsed by the Palestinian legislature Tuesday is made up entirely of Hamas
members and independents allied to the militant Islamic organization.
While that rules out U.S. contact with the Haniyeh government, Ereli said
American diplomats may still deal with PA Chairman Abbas, his staff, and
officials in agencies directly under his authority, including the PA's
representative in Washington, Afief Safieh, because "he does not report to the
foreign ministry", Ereli said.
"We will work with individuals and organizations who are not affiliated with
Hamas," he said. "There are a lot of people we can speak to now," Ereli said.
Quartet envoys to meet in Amman to discuss PA aid
The new policy was announced as two senior U.S. envoys continued contacts in
the region on the situation following the seating of the Palestinian cabinet
and Tuesday's Israeli elections.
White House Middle East policy chief Elliott Abrams and Assistant Secretary of
State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch have held talks with, among others,
Prime Minister-elect Ehud Olmert and former Palestinian cabinet member Saeb
The two envoys are to attend an expert-level meeting in Amman Sunday of the
international Middle East "Quartet," which also includes Russia, the European
Union and the United Nations.
The Quartet issued a statement Thursday noting "with grave concern" that Hamas
had not heeded its appeal of last January 30 to commit to principles of
non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous Palestinian
agreements and obligations including the Quartet's 2003 peace "road map."
Spokesman Ereli said the meeting in the Jordanian capital would examine ways
the Quartet can continue efforts toward a two-state settlement of the conflict
given the "new reality" on the ground.
He also said they would discuss how to continue humanitarian aid to the
Palestinians while by-passing Hamas-controlled ministries.
The Bush administration says the assumption of power by Hamas, a group listed
by the United States as a terrorist organization, means the end of direct U.S.
support for the Palestinian Authority.
But it says it intends to increase humanitarian aid, which has traditionally
been channeled through the UN and non-governmental groups.