Senate Threatens to Cut PA Aid Over Statehood Bid

A bipartisan group of Senators warned PA Chairman Abbas that he would be risking American aid if he goes forward with U.N. move.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators warned Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday that he would be putting millions of dollars of American aid at risk if he goes forward with his planned statehood bid at the United Nations next week.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), co-authors of a Senate resolution denouncing the statehood bid, wrote to the Palestinian Authority president on Wednesday warning him that “any such efforts may cause consequences in regards to U.S. policy and foreign aid.”

The resolution reaffirms “the commitment of the United States to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israel-Palestinian negotiations, reaffirming opposition to the inclusion of Hamas in a unity government unless it is willing to accept peace with Israel and renounce violence.”

It further declares that “Palestinian efforts to gain recognition of a state outside direct negotiations demonstrated absence of a good faith commitment to peace negotiations, and will have implications for continued Unites States aid.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, in announcing a Gaza cease-fire on Wednesday, that the United States would pursue a “comprehensive peace,” suggesting that the Obama administration would work to rekindle two-state peace talks that have been frozen for the past three years.

Congress blocked U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority last year after Abbas sought U.N. membership, a move that was derailed by a U.S. veto threat at the Security Council.

President Obama signed a waiver in April removing the block on the $192 million aid package, calling it "important to the security interests of the United States."

This time, however, the United States will be unable to veto the move because Abbas is seeking observer status in the General Assembly, similar to that of the Vatican.

Doing so could enable the PA to pursue “war crime” charges against Israel at the U.N.'s International Criminal Court, according to some experts.

Abbas is expected to easily gain statehood recognition if he goes through with the attempt, as he has been rallying support for the past seven years, Middle East expert Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said at a Capitol Hill briefing this week, according to The Hill