As of this writing, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is in the Gaza Strip on a “solidarity mission” and meeting with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Clark is not the first former U.S. official to meet with the Hamas leadership (President Jimmy Carter has been a favored guest of Hamas), which raises the questions of how well-enforced U.S. policies are and who must heed them.
According to the U.S. State Department, Hamas is a terrorist organization. And since it wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, forcing out P.A. legislators and institutions, it has controlled Gaza. Logically, the Gaza Strip should be considered occupied by a terrorist government. It is not. As with Lebanon, the United States has enacted policies to reach out to the people of Gaza while attempting to avoid the negative elements of the government.
We support this, as peace should begin at the ground level and work up. By communicating with and supporting the people of Gaza, Israel and the United States can begin to sway their support away from the Hamas government.
And if Clark’s visit had been purely humanitarian, then we would not have any complaint. However, he chose to meet with the leader of the Hamas government, which is responsible for rocket attacks, terror attacks, and illegally holding Gilad Shalit in captivity for four and a half years in violation of international law.
We understand that peace treaties are worked out between enemies, not friends, and we must therefore speak with our enemies during negotiations. It is not, however, the place of former officials to reach out to rogue governments on their own without the consent of their own governments.
It should be illegal for U.S. citizens, especially former government officials, to meet with members of such organizations unless at the specific behest of the government. For a former attorney general to meet with the head of a terrorist state to express solidarity demonstrates a clear disregard for U.S. policies and it is a slap in the face of our ally Israel, which Hamas is sworn to destroy.
For the sake of the peace process, the integrity of U.S. law, and out of respect for our allies, we urge our officials to quickly put the kibosh on this type of behavior.