A New York Times reports that Israel and the United States are discussing ways to force the newly elected Hamas-led Palestinian leadership to call early elections is causing a stir in the Middle East. Officials are denying a plot to bring down a Hamas government is in the works.
The New York Times reports Hamas would be given a choice; to recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements or face international isolation and collapse.
According to the report, both countries would cut off funding to a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, creating disillusionment among the public and ultimately forcing new elections.
Israeli officials denied the newspaper report. But Israeli spokesman Mark Regev says Israel plans to cut off $50 million a month in tax payments to the Palestinians, and the international community should follow suit.
"When a terrorist organization takes over the Palestinian government, that has clear implications as to how the international community must relate to that regime under international law," said Mark Regev.
U.S. officials also denied the report. As White House spokesman Scott McClellan put it: "There is no plot." He said U.S. policy is very clear that it does not and will not fund terrorist organizations.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
Israeli journalist Matthew Gutman believes the defeated Palestinian Fatah party is also working with Israel and the United States to topple Hamas.
"I think that Fatah officials themselves, people I have spoken to today, in the past couple of weeks in Gaza and the West Bank, have said that their goal right now is to stop Hamas, to do anything necessary to insure that Hamas fails," said Matthew Gutman. "That includes as I said, creating chaos, but it also includes making it difficult for them to get funds."
Responding to the report, Hamas accused the United States of hypocrisy. One Hamas official said, "It is a rejection of the democratic process, which the Americans are calling for day and night."