Senate Republicans today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would monetarily punish the Palestinians and any complicit United Nations entity or country if the Palestinian Authority is granted upgraded status.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to launch a fresh bid tomorrow for non-member observer state status at the General Assembly.
Countries that have vowed to support the drive for UN-baptized statehood include France, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland. Hamas has also joined hands with Abbas in support of the bid.
The amendment from Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) would cut 50 percent of the total U.S. funds to the PA and also to any U.N. entity that grants the Palestinians a status change. It also cuts all U.S. foreign assistance to any country voting for the status change by 20 percent.
“The best path to a true and lasting peace is through direct negotiations between the two parties — not through manipulations at the United Nations,” said Barrasso. “The Palestinian Authority’s attempt to change their United Nations’ status is a purely political maneuver that will circumvent direct peace process negotiations with Israel.”
The U.S. threat to use its veto power stopped the PA’s last attempt. “We’ve obviously been very clear that we do not think that this step is going to bring the Palestinian people any closer to a state, that we think it is a mistake, that we oppose it, that we will oppose it,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at Monday’s press briefing. “The Secretary was very clear with President Abbas when she was in Ramallah last week that our position on this has not changed, and we are continuing to make that clear, not only directly to President Abbas and the Palestinians, but also to all of our UN partners as well.”
“If the Palestinians move forward with this irresponsible plan, they will violate international agreements, undermine the peace process and threaten the security of our ally,” Barrasso said. “My amendment makes it clear that undermining the peace process comes at a cost.”