Opinion: It’s Time for Congress to Get Involved in Gaza War

Will US Congress let aid reach Qatar? US Capitol building. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Will US Congress let aid reach Qatar? US Capitol building. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

After what appeared to be a supportive approach to Israel’s war on Gaza terrorists, the US has reportedly given Israel some backhanded diplomacy. According to reports from Haaretz and Al-Monitor, the US proposed a ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas conflict that embraced multiple Hamas requests while barely noting Israeli concerns.

Based on these reports, especially that in Al-Monitor, it appears the US has squandered its good influence in the Middle East. That report mentioned the possibility of pressuring Hamas-sponsoring Qatar with financial means. I believe that there is still time to do that. And it’s time the US Congress did it.

As the primary wielders of the US government’s monies, the US Congress is the sponsor of numerous major sanctions issued against international threats. It also holds a sizable influence in determining how much money should be given or resources sold to foreign nations.

The best way for Congress to help Israel is to start challenging the implementation of a massive, $11 billion arms deal for the Middle East nation of Qatar. Why Qatar? Because Qatar is the home and refuge for Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas.

According to a Pentagon press release, the deal will send to Qatar Apache helicopters and the Patriot missile defense system. Quite the coup for a nation sponsoring terrorists.

Now could be just the time for Congress to pressure Qatar into convincing Hamas to accept a reasonable ceasefire that will end the violence and enable Israel to destroy the tunnels that threaten it. If rumblings begin that the US Congress is going to undercut or delay this sizable arms deal due to Qatar relations with Hamas, that just might be enough to disconcert the Qatari leadership.

As the host to Hamas’ leader, Qatar wields some of the best influence over the group. Meshaal needs Qatar after fleeing Syria following the outbreak of the civil war there. What’s more, former Israeli President Shimon Peres has accused Qatar of helping to fund Hamas—and their terrorism as a result.

There is precedent for the US to undermine previous arms arrangements for political reasons. The US withheld helicopters and more for months from Egypt over disagreements in how the Egyptian government was handling protests there.

Hosting the leader of a terror group that’s spearheading the world’s most well-known current war sounds like a worthy offense to merit a similar treatment.

Meanwhile, Congress should also be seeking to issue public statements condemning Hamas’ use of human shields and targeting of Israel. Republicans that oppose US President Barack Obama should also make this a campaign issue ahead of the November elections, so as to elicit even more pressure on the US Administration to back Israel.

And that’s another reason why Congress should act—we will be deciding which ones stay or go in just a few more months. If you believe that Congress should do more to support Israel, give your representative a call or email.

It’s late in the game for the US to do what it should have done at the start. But there’s still time.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July 30, 2014)

What do you think?