WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- The Obama administration has asked Congress to let aid to Palestinians continue if Hamas backers are included in a new unity government, observers say.
The proposed change in U.S. law would be necessary because Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is designated as a terrorist organization and therefore cannot receive U.S. aid. But power-sharing negotiations between Hamas and the rival Fatah faction, which controls the West Bank, may result in a unity Palestinian government that includes ministers backed by Hamas, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The White House sought the change as part of a bill authorizing $840 million for the Palestinian Authority as well as for rebuilding Gaza after this year's 22-day Israeli military assault.
The Hamas proposal brought criticism from U.S. lawmakers, the Times said -- one of whom, U.S. Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, R-Ill., said the move was akin to supporting a government that "only has a few Nazis in it."
"We don't want to … bind our hands in the event that such a (Palestinian unity) agreement is reached, and the government that they are part of agrees to our principles," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly replied.