Watchdog: Virginia congressman defends funding Hamas-backed unity government
By Paul Miller
TYSONS CORNER, Va. — In the ongoing battle to deprive Mideast terrorists of financial support, one member of Congress vows he’ll make sure at least one group of violent extremists gets cash from U.S. taxpayers.
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D- Va., defended U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority, despite the fact that the authority includes members of Hamas, a group the U.S. says is a terror organization.
Connolly’s remarks, at a Sept. 28 Arab American Candidates Night forum, emphasized his determination to fightHouse of Representatives colleagues who might block the funding.
“When there are voices calling for the defunding of the Palestinian Authority, I oppose them, publicly,” Connolly said. “Infact I signed a letter signed by Congressman David Price of North Carolina, also signed by Jim (Moran D- Va.), that said we are not going to defund the Palestinian Authority. That would guarantee an explosion in an already volatile situation. When there was a motion to close the Palestinian Authority office here in Washington or let it just be in New York, I opposed it and said it would be a terrible blow to diplomacy and not in U.S. interest let alone Palestine’s interest.”
“Gerry Connolly’s remarks are very troubling,” said Noah Silverman, Republican Jewish Coalition Congressional Affairs Director. “A vow to support taxpayer funding for a Palestinian government that includes Hamas demonstrates reckless indifference to our ally Israel and a disregard for U.S. law, which forbids aid to such a government.”
Connolly’s Republican challenger in November, Suzanne Scholte, posted the audio clip on her YouTube page of the congressman defending his position.
In a news release Tuesday, she said, “We also need to destroy terrorists not fund them.”
“Sending money to Hamas is reckless and hurts Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East – while destabilizing the entire region by legitimizing a terrorist group with U.S.dollars,” Scholte said in the news release.
During his speech, Connolly also addressed the Egyptian military coup that ousted theMohammed Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood government.
“I was the only member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who spoke out against the Egyptian military after the coup because they overthrew a democratically elected government whether we like it or not.” Connolly said. “Either the United States supports democracy or we don’t. And even though our government may not like the Muslim Brotherhood, I may not like the Muslim Brotherhood, that governmentdid not mow down thousands of their fellow citizens in the streets of Cairo.”
“Defending and tolerating Morsi’s actions shows how radical Connolly has become on foreign policy, said Scholte. “America needs to defend those persecuted in Egypt, not the persecutors.”
In an interview with Watchdog.org’s Virginia bureau, Scholte said, “Since being elected to Congress, Gerry Connolly has become more and more out of touch with his constituents while becoming more and more radical in his positions. It is the reason he stopped having town hall meetings years ago as his extremist views on foreign policy are completely at odds with Northern Virginia, one of the most educated and diverse areas in the nation.”
Connolly’s congressional office and campaign did not respond to phone call and email requests for comment.