Daily Israel Report

US Congress Opposes PA Statehood Bid

The US House of Representatives voted 407-6 to back the suspension of funds to the PA if it pursues its statehood bid at the UN in September.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 7/8/2011, 1:30 PM / Last Update: 7/8/2011, 3:19 PM

The US House of Representatives voted 407-6 to pass a non-binding resolution backing the suspension of funds to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority should it pursue its bid for a unilateral declaration of statehood by the United Nations in September.

The resolution comes a week after the US Senate unanimously approved a similar resolution.

The House resolution also calls for the Obama administration to consider suspending aid the the PA in light of its unity deal with Hamas terror organization. The resolution is non-binding because, constitutionally, foreign policy is the purview of the President of the United States.

The House initially debated the resolution on Wednesday, but postponed the vote to ensure lawmakers had a chance to vote. Republicans and Democrats signaled their strong support for Israel and a resumption of direct negotiations that collapsed last fall.

"We stand by Israel as our most valued ally. It is time for the Palestinian Authority to accept a peaceful solution to this conflict," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said he strongly believed that to ensure "the long-term viability of the Jewish democratic state, peace must be negotiated. It cannot and will not be imposed from outside."

The administration has said the PA push for a UN vote on its statehood this fall has not helped the peace process, a point echoed by lawmakers. The US has signaled to the PA it will exercise its security council veto at the UN should the matter be brought to a vote.

That renders the PA move in the General Assembly largely symbolic and led Israeli officials to seek a "moral minority" of sixty key states to oppose the move as a means of negating the propaganda effect of the PA receiving the support of its traditional 'automatic majority' in the General Assembly.

"What, exactly, would UN General Assembly recognition of a Palestinian state do for the Palestinians? Absolutely nothing," said Rep. Howard Berman of California, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. "It would be seen by Israel and many others as an act of bad faith, creating yet another obstacle to successful talks."

The House resolution says the goal is two states "a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition."

But many question the viability of a PA state when the organization, riddled with corruption, cannot make ends meet and survives solely at the charitable largesse of donor nations.