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Monday, July 4, 2011     GET REAL

Congress threatens to cut off aid to Palestinians should statehood declaration at UN proceed

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Congress has intensified pressure on the Palestinian Authority in an effort to prevent the declaration of a Palestinian state in 2011.
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    Congress has relayed warnings to terminate U.S. aid to the PA should the regime of chairman Mahmoud Abbas proceed with a unilateral declaration of a state at the United Nations. House and Senate leaders have asserted that such a declaration would result in an immediate cessation of both civilian and security assistance.

    "Any effort to seek unilateral statehood at the United Nations will have serious consequences for future U.S. aid to the Palestinians," Sen. Susan Collin, a Republican from Maine, said.

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    Ms. Collins was a sponsor of a Senate resolution that threatened to halt U.S. aid to the PA. The resolution, co-sponsored by 88 senators, called on President Barack Obama to veto any declaration of Palestinian statehood in the UN.

    The Senate's non-binding resolution, passed on June 28, also appealed to Obama to suspend U.S. aid to the PA in wake of the reconciliation agreement by Fatah and Hamas. In April, Hamas, termed a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, reached agreement to form a PA government with Fatah in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    "A permanent and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said.

    A similar resolution against the PA was being circulated in the House. The resolution has garnered 289 co-sponsors, or a majority of the legislative body, and was expected to be approved.

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