Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 7, 2006

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For IMMEDIATE Release

What Course for Palestinians after Elections?
Ros-Lehtinen Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing 

BACKGROUND - On January 25, 2006, Palestinians elected a new parliament.  An estimated 980,000 out of roughly 1.2 million eligible voters participated in the election, a 77 percent turnout among eligible voters. On February 19th, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was officially appointed as the new Palestinian prime minister.  In the weeks following the Hamas victory, Palestinian terrorists have launched more than 130 Qassam rockets into Israeli territory.  Islamic Jihad and Fatah-affiliated groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks. Abu Mazen, the Fatah leader and president of the Palestinian Authority, recently transferred control over some security agencies to the new government, but rejected Hamasí invitation to join a coalition government with Fatah. Regional reaction to the results has been mixed. General Uman Suleman, Egypt's Intelligence Chief, said that Hamas "must put an end to the violence; it must accept international legality and the accords that have been signed; and it must recognize Israel.  If it rejects those three conditions, it cannot govern."  Jordanís King Abdullah suggested that all Palestinian factions must prove to the world that "there is a Palestinian partner able to go forward to achieve peace." Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab donor to the Palestinians, stated it would continue to fund the Palestinian government despite the prospect of a Hamas-led cabinet. Iranís Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on all Muslims to support the Palestinian government when Hamas takes over the parliament. Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the global war on terror, stated that the "international community should accept the reality and verdict in the Palestinian elections and not shut its door on the newly elected Hamas authority." Following Hamasí election victory, the U.S. requested the return of $50 million in U.S. aid previously given to the Fatah-led government.  Debate about future U.S. support for the Palestinian people is expected to continue in the United States as Congress works toward adopting a FY07 budget.  

WHAT:                               Subcommittee Oversight Hearing: 
                            Palestinian Authority Elections:  Implications for Peace, Regional Security, and U.S. Assistance

                            Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia
                            U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair

WHEN:                               2:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 8, 2006

WHERE:                             2200 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:                      Ms. Ilka Schroeder,
                                             Research Fellow, Georgetown University;

                                             Brigadier General Michael Herzog,
                                             Israel Defense Forces,
                                             Visiting Military Fellow,
                                             The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and

                                             Mr. Ben Zimmerman,
                                            
Project Leader,
                                             American-Israeli Demographic Research Group.

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