Q Mr. President, Israel is halting payments to the Palestinians — the tax monies. What do you think about that, and what is the next step?
THE PRESIDENT: I'll just give you our government's position, and that is, we have said that — well, first of all, the U.S. government doesn't give direct grants to Palestine, we go through the Palestinian Authority, we go through — we give grants through NGOs from our USAID, to help people. But my statement still stands, that so long as Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, my view is we don't have a partner in peace, and therefore shouldn't fund a government that is not a partner in peace. I thought the elections were important. I was one voice that said the elections should go forward on time.
But I recognized that, one, elections are the first step in many cases in evolution of a true democracy; and secondly, that elections show — give everybody a true look at how — what people are thinking on the street; and thirdly, though, that because the Palestinians spoke, doesn't necessarily mean we have to agree with the nature of — the party elected. And the party elected has said, we're for the destruction of Israel. And our policy is, two states living side by side in peace. And therefore, it's hard to have a state living side by side in peace when your stated objective is the destruction of one of the states. So my policy still stands, what I said day one after the Hamas elections.
Sources: The White House