RAMALLAH, April 10 (JMCC) - Two US congressmen have written to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slamming an award the Palestine Liberation Organization gave to reporter Helen Thomas in a private ceremony.
The letter, according to Haaretz
, hints that the award could jeopardize Washington's assistance to the Palestinian Authority, which Abbas heads.
The Congressmen – Republican Steve Chabot, Chairman of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee, and Democrat Eliot Engel, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – wrote in the letter that last year, the Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted an amendment entitled the Preparing the Palestinian People for Peace Act. This legislation conditioned U.S. assistance on whether the PA was actively preparing its people for peace through compromise with messages of tolerance, understanding, and reconciliation.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, Chabot and Engel expressed concern over the award given to Thomas, and said that it is tantamount to accepting and agreeing with her call for Jews in Palestine to go back to Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else.'
The Congressmen added that Thomas' words and beliefs have been anything but supportive of a settlement where two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, would live side-by-side, in peace and security.
Oren told Haaretz that the decision to honor Thomas was a display of bad judgment. There is no other way to see it other than (a move) legitimizing Hamas' anti-Semitic statements, he said. There is a direct line running through Abbas' meeting with the terrorist Amna Muna and the Palestinian bid at the human rights council, and awarding a prize to a journalist who was shamefully expelled from the White House.
Thomas was ostracized, ending her decades-long reporting career, after she said on camera in 2010 that Israel should get the hell out of Palestine.
Right-wing Israeli groups have close ties with congressional representatives, exploiting those connections to promote the idea that the Palestinian Authority is at fault in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Palestinians have declined to continue direct negotiations, saying that as long as Israel is constructing settlements, there is no basis for talks to end Israel's 45-year military occupation.
The Palestinian Authority is currently struggling with debt, only Tuesday paying its employees for March, because international donors have not met their commitments to the interim authority, which relies heavily on aid. Israel briefly halted the transfer of Palestinian Authority tax revenues last year in response to Palestinians' appeal to the United Nations for statehood.
The US legislation referenced in the letter to Abbas forced the closing and slow-down of several US-funded projects, further aggravating the Palestinian Authority's budget crisis.