We won’t let US derail our statehood bid, says PA official

Following warning by US senators that aid will be cutoff if Abbas goes to UN, PA says we can't "sacrifice freedom for financial aid."

June 29, 2011 22:04
3 minute read.
Palestinian Flag

Palestinian Flag 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A US Senate resolution won’t deter the Palestinian Authority from proceeding with plans to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, the PA said on Wednesday.

Nimer Hammad, an adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the Senate’s threat to cut off financial aid won’t stop the PA from doing something it considers to be in the interest of the Palestinians.

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Hammad said that instead of threatening the Palestinians, the US should have forced Israel to freeze settlement construction and launch peace talks on the basis of the June 4, 1967, lines.

“What the US Senate announced is not new,” he said. “We already saw how Congress received Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu [last month]. The reception was better than how the Knesset would have received him.”

Hammad said that the Palestinians “can’t sacrifice their freedom in return for financial aid.” The PA, he added was nevertheless keen on maintaining good relations with the US – “but not at the expense of the Palestinians’ national project.”

Late on Tuesday, The US Senate passed a resolution threatening to cut off aid to the PA should it seek a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN.

The non-binding resolution, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and cosponsored by 88 of the body’s 99 other senators, passed by unanimous accord.

The measure declares that the Senate “will consider restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority should it persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies.”

It also calls on US President Barack Obama to veto any such UN proposal and lead an international diplomatic campaign against the Palestinian effort.

In addition, the resolution urges the Obama administration to consider suspending aid to the Palestinians in light of the recent unity government agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

Should that deal be implemented, the resolution stated, current law would prohibit the flow of US monies to the new government unless all its ministers accepted the right of Israel to exist and honored previous agreements between Israel and the PLO. The PA is an organ of the PLO.

“The Senate has delivered a clear message to the international community that United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state at this time does not further the peace process,” Cardin said in a statement. “A permanent and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who joined Cardin in sponsoring the resolution, warned that “any effort to seek unilateral statehood at the United Nations will have serious consequences for future US aid to the Palestinians.”

She added, “The road to peace is through negotiations, not subverting them and making a case before the United Nations.”

The US House of Representatives is soon due to consider a similar resolution, proposed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. It currently has 289 co-sponsors, or slightly more than half of the members of the House.

The Senate vote was warmly welcomed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

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