U.S.: We Will Stop Aid to Palestinians if UN Bid Proceeds

U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein, tells chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat U.S. 'will take punitive measures' against Palestinian Authority if it seeks to upgrade position at UN General Assembly.

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The United States will stop all financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if they proceed with plans to ask the United Nations for recognition of an independent state in September, a U.S. official warned Friday.

U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein, told chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in the name of the Obama administration, that the U.S. would veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for recognition of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip within the June 4, 1967 borders and for UN membership.

Saeb Erekat at Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo, May 1, 2010. Credit: AP

"If the Palestinian Authority insists on going to the Security Council, the U.S. will use the veto," he told Erekat during a meeting in the West Bank city of Jericho, according to a statement issued by Erekat's office.

"And in case the Palestinian Authority seeks to upgrade its position at the UN through the General Assembly, the U.S. Congress will take punitive measures against it, including a cut in U.S. aid," he said.

Rubinstein said his country sees the Palestinians' UN bid as "useless," and that it would be better to conclude a peace agreement with Israel through direct negotiations, according to Erekat.

Erekat said U.S. support for the Palestinian UN bid would actually enhance the two-state solution and peace in the Middle East.

He called on the U.S. to reconsider its position on the issue because "the right decision is to support Palestine's membership of the UN."

Erekat, who had also met with the European Union's representative to the Palestinian Authority, Christian Burger, also urged Europe to support Palestinian efforts to get full membership of the UN.

The European Union, he said, "should take the correct position, not the easy position."

The EU has not yet decided which way it will go when the issue comes up for discussion at the Security Council in September. Some member states, such as Spain, have said they would support the Palestinian step.

If the U.S. vetoes the Security Council resolution, the Palestinians plan to ask the UN General Assembly to vote on the resolution, which needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

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