U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is reinforcing his support for the Israeli people and government in response to a letter he received from the PLO Ambassador to the U.S.
In his letter Rubio condemns violence against innocent civilians and highlights the exploitation of the Palestinian people by Hamas.
He also criticized the Palestinian Authority’s continued willingness to govern with a terrorist organization that is conducting indiscriminate attacks against Israel.
July 24, 2014
Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat
The General Delegation of the PLO to the U.S.
1732 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
Dear Ambassador Areikat:
Thank you for your letter expressing concern about recent events in the West Bank and Gaza. I regret, however, that you have chosen to attack members of Congress rather than engaging in a responsible discussion about the challenges facing your people.
The fact is that I have always been supportive of the Palestinian people’s desire to live side by side peacefully with Israel. This is a point I reinforced in my meeting with then-Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah last year. You and your government, however, have not helped your cause in recent months. Instead of continuing negotiations with Israel over a peaceful settlement, your leadership instead decided to again unilaterally seek statehood. Then, you chose to partner with a terrorist organization, Hamas, to form a power sharing government. Now, as that terrorist organization is conducting indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians, instead of vocally opposing their actions, your government seems to be embracing their hateful rhetoric, and even backing their unrealistic ceasefire demands.
I condemn all violence against innocent civilians. But again, let’s be clear about the facts. Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Yifrah were kidnapped and then murdered in cold blood. After their disappearance, President Abbas appeared reluctant to criticize the kidnapping or to assist in the search for the teenagers, until he was specifically asked by Prime Minister Netanyahu. After their bodies were discovered, many Palestinians openly celebrated their deaths. In stark contrast, the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir was quickly investigated by Israeli authorities. The perpetrators were arrested and are being brought to justice. Prime Minister Netanyahu forcefully condemned the murder and said that there was no place “for those kind of murderers in Israeli society.” Israeli citizens actually visited Mohammed’s family to express their sorrow for the role played by their countrymen in such a heinous crime.
The contrast in approaches is striking when it comes to Gaza as well. The Israeli Defense Forces are going to great lengths to limit civilian casualties. They are asking residents to flee areas where operations will occur. They warn occupants of buildings of an impending strike. What does Hamas do? It encourages civilians to stay and be martyrs. It hides its weapons and rocket launchers in schools, playgrounds, hospitals, and residential buildings. Meanwhile, as the rockets fall on Israel and the residents of Gaza are exploited as human shields, your government insists that Hamas is still your partner.
The path to a peaceful and prosperous future is not through the murderous ideology of Hamas and its Iranian allies. It will not be achieved through rocket fire, covert missile shipments, tunnels, weapons hidden in houses and the use of human shields. It will not be reached through the glorification of violence and martyrdom. It will only be achieved if those Palestinians that care about peace, that support moderation, that want to respect the fundamental rights of all parties, Israelis and Palestinians, to achieve their full potential as human beings, are willing to speak out. I have said that the deaths of civilians in Gaza are 100 percent the fault of Hamas and I stand by that statement. However, increasingly, I am coming to the conclusion that it is the failed leadership of President Abbas and your government that is also to blame. The Palestinian people deserve better than the leaders that have brought them to this point.
The United States and the Palestinian Authority have worked closely in recent decades. The American taxpayers have provided more than $5 billion over the last twenty years to improve the welfare, security, and well-being of the Palestinian people. However, if you continue to choose this path of aiding and abetting known terrorists whose only goal is the destruction of Israel, you will find that the bipartisan support for that relationship that you have enjoyed in Congress will change very quickly.
United States Senator