Monday, April 30, 2012
Obama Sidesteps Congress—Again
The funds were also frozen because of internal actions within the Palestinian Authority. The PA authority president Mahmoud Abbas represents the Fatah faction, and was the almost automatic successor to Yasser Arafat. Given the hostility to the United States and Israel evidenced by both Arafat and Abbas, it would be expected that any American funds given to the PA would be done more as a bribe than anything else. And until the move for statehood at the UN, that was pretty much the pattern of both the Bush and Obama administrations.
But there is more involved than just the failed UN action. Like so many Middle East “governments,” the Palestinian Authority plays fast and loose with its foundational documents and veneer of democracy. When the Palestine Liberation Organization nominated its chairman Abbas to be president of the Palestinian National Authority, he ran as the Fatah candidate and won. The officially-recognized governmental organization is the Palestinian Authority, and as head of the Palestinian National Authority, Abbas became the official spokesman and negotiator for Palestine and the Palestinian Authority. Confusing enough?
In 2011, Abbas’s term as head of the government expired, but there was extreme unrest and dissension throughout the area, so he extended his authority for a year with very little political or legal authority to do so. In order to preserve his position, Abbas made a move which changed the entire formula. Abbas didn’t want to risk a civil war involving his main opposition, so he simply held out an olive branch and got the cooperation (and participation) of Hamas. And that’s where the trouble really begins.
Hamas is an official terrorist organization as defined by the United States Department of State. Combined with the move for statehood at the UN, this political arrangement was simply too much for Congress to accept, and the $192 million package was frozen. The language of the Congressional resolution (the Palestinian Accountability Act) states that “No funds available to any United States Government department or agency may be obligated or expended with respect to providing funds to the Palestinian Authority.”
Fatah was naturally opposed to Israel, wants it own nationhood to include significant land within Israel, and demands the right to share Jerusalem. But Hamas goes much farther than that. Hamas’s core political stance is that Israel must cease to exist entirely and become part of the Islamic nation of Palestine. Any supporter of Israel’s existence is an enemy of Hamas and therefore subject to attack by Hamas (and by implication now, by the Palestinian Authority). Even with the weak-spined Obama in office, the official position of America is that Israel is a legitimate nation and an ally of the United States. Both logically and rhetorically, that makes America and Americans subject to Hamas/PA attack.
Obama did another one of his “get it lost in the weekend news slump” maneuvers. He announced the waiver for the PA on Friday night at the end of the news cycle and just as Vice President Joe Biden was announcing that if Mitt Romney had been president, he wouldn’t have ordered the capture and/or death of Osama bin Laden. Put a big lie on top of another executive order, and the public will be too busy noticing the lie to notice the order.
Obama gave no details or explanation of his dismissal of Congress’s clear will except to invoke “national security.” And sadly, he is on fairly solid constitutional grounds. He, not Congress, is charged with conducting foreign policy. Most presidents will show due respect for the wishes of Congress, particularly the funding provided by the House of Representatives. But Obama is not “most presidents.” He enjoys ruling by fiat and using the Constitution against itself. He may not owe Congress an explanation, but he does owe an explanation to the American people and our ally Israel.