State Dept: Hamas Does Not Have Role in Palestinian Government

by Molly Wharton

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says that the White House does not believe that Hamas plays a role in the Palestinian Authority’s current government. 

The Palestinian Authority formed a new government on June 2, drawing no cabinet ministers from Hamas but gaining the Islamist militant group’s backing for the PA’s president, Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and does not recognize Israel, is identified as a terrorist organization by both Israel and the U.S. 

CNN reporter Elise Labott asked Psaki about the government’s continued backing of the PA. ”Now that the U.S. has, in effect, kind of accepted the fact that Hamas is now in this unity government,” she said, “you would think that as leader of this unity government, it would be incumbent on President Abbas to rein in or take — you know, try and maintain some kind of control over the activities of Hamas.” 

Psaki replied that the State Department has stated from the very start that they would judge the PA “by its actions, composition and policies.” She continued, “Based on what we know now, it hasn’t changed. We don’t believe that Hamas plays a role in the government.”

Labott said that, though it is possible that as a technicality Hamas does not play a role, the unity government does indeed include Hamas. She asked, “Now does President Abbas, more so than ever, bear responsibility for the actions of Hamas?”

Psaki said this was not the case. 

Within hours of the new government’s formation in June, the State Department announced that it would continue to support and fund the Palestinian Authority, to which it gives about $500 million each year, according to the Jerusalem Post.

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