The stunning news of Hamas’s win in Palestinian elections has diplomats and pols scrambling to contain/condemn the latest inconvenient (and, yeah, scary) result of democracy. Leading the pack is New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, runner-up in the 2005 Democratic mayoral primary and likely 2009 candidate for City Hall.
“Hamas will not condemn violence, and therefore can play no role in building renouncing violence and terror in the Middle East,” said Weiner in a statement “We can be sure that Hamas will do all it can to derail efforts to establish peace in the region. Hamas cannot be allowed to further destabilize this region. The Bush Administration must immediately halt direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, West Bank, and Gaza.”
There’s no arguing that Hamas is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, is an enemy of Israel and has butchered innocents. But Weiner’s call is not a response to Hamas’s win, but an echoing of something he has advocated for years: An end to U.S. dealing with the Palestinians, regardless of who’s in charge.
Beginning in 2000, Weiner has called for an end to aid to the Palestinian Authority—a call he has repeated umpteen times. Back in April 2002, he opposed Secretary of State Colin Powell’s plan to meet with Yasser Arafat. In October 2004, he wanted the U.N. aid chief in the occupied territories removed because he’d hired Hamas members. Last spring he wanted the PLO office in Washington closed, and in August he backed the seizure of the New York office. On Wednesday he wanted to cut aid to the Palestinians—last year it totaled $275 million with $50 million going directly to the Palestinian Authority—simply because Hamas was set to make “gains” in the elections.
In other words, whether Hamas was in charge or not, Weiner’s been opposed to aid for years. The point is, if he had succeeded earlier, what would we threaten the Palestinians with now?