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PA Official: U.S. Warned Me of Aid Cut for Statehood Bid

The PA's chief negotiator claims: The U.S. Consul-General told me Congress would cut aid to the PA if we pursue statehood.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 8/26/2011, 10:45 PM

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
(file)

The Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator said Friday that a U.S. diplomat had warned him that the U.S. would cut aid to the PA if they proceed with their unilateral bid for statehood at the UN in September.

Saeb Erekat told The Associated Press that the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein, told him Friday that the U.S. Congress will take “punitive measures” if the PA proceeds with seeking recognition of statehood.

“It will stop granting the Palestinians its annual aid package” of about $470 million, Erekat claimed Rubinstein had told him.

“If the Palestinian Authority seeks to upgrade its position at the UN through the General Assembly then the American Congress will take punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority including halting American assistance,” Erekat quoted Rubinstein as saying.

He added that Rubinstein said, “The U.S sees no benefits from the Palestinian efforts to get membership at the UN and it’s better to reach peace agreements through negotiations. If the Palestinian Authority insists on going to the Security Council, then the U.S. will use the veto.”

Erekat told AP he told the consul-general he wishes the U.S. would reconsider its position.

In response, the U.S. that Erekat had mischaracterized Rubinstein’s remarks.

“While we cannot get into private diplomatic discussions, this report is not an accurate portrayal of the U.S position, nor did Consul-General Rubinstein make the comments reported in the media,” the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem said in a statement it released Friday and which was quoted by AP. “As President Obama has made clear, initiatives through the UN will not bring about the two-state solution and enduring peace which both parties and the U.S seek, therefore we continue to oppose initiatives by the Palestinians in the UN. There is no substitute for serious and substantive negotiations between the parties, and that remains our focus.”

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have warned that American aid to the PA is in jeopardy over the push for statehood at the United Nations. Last month, the House of Representatives voted 407-6 to pass a non-binding resolution backing the suspension of funds to the PA should it pursue its bid for a unilateral declaration of statehood by the United Nations in September.

The resolution came a week after the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a similar resolution.

The House resolution also calls for the Obama administration to consider suspending aid to 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.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)