State Dept: ‘No Evidence That Hamas Plays Any Role’ in Palestinian Government

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State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki claimed again Tuesday that “no evidence” existed that the terrorist organization Hamas “plays any role” in the Palestinian government.

A reporter asked Psaki if President Mahmoud Abbas bore any blame for the current fighting between Israel and Hamas, saying, “at one point, yes, it was a conflict between just the U.S. and Hamas, and Abbas had no real kind of skin in the game, because it was between the two parties even though it was affecting the Palestinian people directly. But now, he’s part of a unity government and has some influence with Hamas now, wouldn’t you say?”

” Well, we have no evidence that Hamas plays any role in the interim technocratic government, and as far as we know, there have also been no steps taken for the implementation of the reconciliation,” Psaki said. “And obviously, as I mentioned yesterday, given the situation on the ground, it’s difficult to see how the reconciliation process can move forward in the current atmosphere.”

Psaki made the same claim Monday under questioning from CNN, saying the U.S. did not “believe” Hamas played any role. The reporter reminded Psaki it was a unity government that included Hamas and whether Abbas bore responsibility for its violent actions.

Full exchange:

JEN PSAKI: Well, what I’m specifically — let me see if there are more specific calls to read out for you. What I’m referring to is any leader in the region — any countries in the region that can send a strong message to Hamas as well.

Q: But that would be — so, like, the Egyptians, the Saudis? Who? The Turks?

PSAKI: That’s correct. Those are all applicable. I don’t have any more specifics to read out for you, though, on that.

Q: What about Palestinian President Abbas sending a strong message to Hamas? I mean, you are recognizing his government, of which Hamas is a part. I mean, doesn’t he bear some responsibility for reining in Hamas?

PSAKI: We don’t recognize (governments ?) — Hamas is not a part of the technocratic government. We certainly –

Q: (Inaudible.)

PSAKI: Let me finish. We certainly expect President Abbas to do everything in his power to prevent rocket attacks and to condemn violence, and he has made a range of those calls. But we’re conveying the same message to him as well about the need to exercise restraint and de-escalate the situation on the ground.

Q: But do you think that he bears some responsibility here? I mean, I just — it’s like, at one point, yes, it was a conflict between just the U.S. and Hamas, and Abbas had no real kind of skin in the game, because it was between the two parties even though it was affecting the Palestinian people directly. But now, he’s part of a unity government and has some influence with Hamas now, wouldn’t you say?

PSAKI: Well, we have no evidence that Hamas plays any role in the interim technocratic government, and as far as we know, there have also been no steps taken for the implementation of the reconciliation. And obviously, as I mentioned yesterday, given the situation on the ground, it’s difficult to see how the reconciliation process can move forward in the current atmosphere.

I think, yes, we want President Abbas to do everything in his power to prevent rocket attacks and to condemn violence, but I would remind you, as you know, Hamas continues to control Gaza. The Palestinian Authority security forces only operate in the West Bank and don’t operate in Gaza. So there are certainly limitations to what is possible, though we want him to do everything in his power to prevent and condemn these type of attacks.