Dear Mr. President:
We are writing you out of deep concern over the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections and the question of terrorist groups such as Hamas participating in these elections. As you stated just a few months ago in discussing Hamas' participation: “You cannot have a democracy based upon a rule of law if you have armed bands of people who will use their weapons to try to achieve a political outcome.” We agree completely. Nevertheless, we are concerned that Hamas will be able to field candidates for the upcoming elections without disarming and without committing to an agreed set of basic principles concerning violence and democratic values.
We are deeply disappointed that President Abbas has yet to do what the Palestinian Authority has committed to doing on numerous occassions - asserting control over the terrorist groups that operate freely within the West Bank and Gaza. We therefore urge you to press the Palestinian leadership to use the leverage they now have with these terrorist groups to insist that they adhere to a basic set of principles before they can run for political office. No democracy in the world allows a political party to bear its own arms; Palestinian democracy should be no different. If such principles are not established now, it will be much more difficult to do later. Futhermore, if terrorist groups gain a substantial foothold in the Palestinian legislature, it will make it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for there to be any progress on the roadmap or on the road to achieving a two state solution.
There would be even more severe policy implications if any such groups were then brought into the Palestinian Authority. The United States - and no doubt other countries as well - would have little choice but to reevaluate all aspects of our relations with the Palestinian Authority.
We hope it never gets to that point. We look forward to working with you over the next few months to make clear to Palestinian leaders that terrorist groups must either disarm or be barred from the political process.
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