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Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) has filed a bill that would completely eliminate U.S. aid to the Palestinians unless their newly formed unity government fully recognizes Israel's right to exist, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Paul's legislation comes less than a week after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he will form a unity government with the terror group Hamas, which quickly announced that it will not renounce violence or recognize Israel's right to exist.
Paul's legislation would cut off the more than $100 million that the U.S. annually allocates to the Palestinians until the new unity government explicitly recognizes Israel's right exist, according to a final copy of the bill viewed by the Free Beacon.
Paul’s bill, the Stand with Israel Act, is similar to a separate piece of legislation in the House authored by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla). That bill would also end aid to the Palestinian Authority until it recognizes Israel and severs ties to Hamas.
"In the absence of such a clear, unambiguous statement on the part of the newly unified Palestinian government, the United States should act to enforce the law and cut off aid to the Palestinian government until they recognize Israel's right to exist," Paul said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon late Sunday night.
“I will introduce a measure when Congress returns this week to make all future aid to the Palestinian government conditional upon this statement, with a cutoff date of five weeks from now if, upon its formation, the new government does not take this vital step toward peace," Paul said.
The bill will cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians until the president certified on a yearly basis that the P.A. has publicly recognized Israel as a Jewish state, renounced terrorism, purged terrorists from all areas of the government, ended its funding for anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda, and publicly vowed not to start war with Israel.
The P.A. would have five weeks to comply with the bill before U.S. aid dries up.
House lawmakers are also preparing to force the Palestinian aid issue.
“It’s up to members of Congress to hold fast and say no more,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Ros-Lehtinen—who has scheduled a hearing on the matter for early next month—said she remains concerned that the Obama administration will search for legal loopholes to ensure that U.S. aid continues to flow to the Palestinian government.
“I’m very nervous that they’re funding the PA now with this unity government,” she said, explaining that it is likely the administration will issue “any kind of qualifier … in order to justify them continuing to send money down this hole.”
With the peace process now indefinitely on hold, Ros-Lehtinen said now is the time to force the aid issue.
“The PA has shown very clearly and directly and without a shadow of a doubt that they do not want peace with Israel and they’re not willing to acknowledge the existence of Israel as a Jewish state,” she said. “And now they’ve gone so far as to be in cahoots with a terror organization. We really need to apply the laws we passed and hold this administration’s feet to the fire and not let them have qualifiers and hesitations.”
DeSantis, the author of the Palestinian Accountability Act, said the United States is wasting taxpayer dollars on a government that is not serious about reaching peace with Israel.
“I have a responsibility to taxpayers to make sure their money is going for a use that benefits our country,” DeSantis said. “And all this money has been sent there for all these years and we’re still not at the point where terrorism is denounced and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is not questioned. Then what are we spending this money for?”
Many other lawmakers are already backing calls by Paul and DeSantis to cut off Palestinian aid.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Palestinian unity government is a “flagrant move [that] makes one wonder whether Israel has any partner for peace.”
“We in Congress will not allow U.S. aid to fall into the hands of Hamas, a terror organization which has murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians, fired more than 10,000 rockets at Israeli cities, praised Osama Bin Laden as a ‘holy warrior,' and condemned the U.S. for killing Bin Laden,” Lamborn said.