Reuters on Thursday published details from a Wednesday press conference held by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki, in which Malki declared that he didn’t “expect any consequences coming from the U.S. Congress” after Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas signed papers requesting membership for the “State of Palestine” in 15 international treaties.
“Frankly speaking, I don’t expect any consequences coming from the U.S. Congress regarding this step at all,” Riad al-Malki told reporters on Wednesday.
Malki also told reporters that the moves were designed to strengthen the Palestinians’ “legal arsenal” in waging diplomatic warfare against Israel. Abbas’s gambit was broadly seen as specifically violating Palestinian commitments not to turn to the UN during a nine-month negotiation period held under the auspices of Secretary of State John Kerry, and more broadly may have run afoul of the Palestinians’ Oslo Accord commitments not to unilaterally change the legal status of the West Bank. It also threatened to trigger language in this year’s congressional omnibus spending bill that made U.S. assistance to the PA contingent on the Palestinians maintaining the status quo at the UN.
Al-Monitor reported late on Wednesday that there were bipartisan moves being made in the House to “withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid” in response to the Palestinian maneuver.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations & Related Programs, told Al-Monitor that aid should be revisited. She said the goal of US assistance since the 1990s has been to help strike a peace deal, and that the UN move appears antithetical to that.
“What a lot of it was, we’re going to try to help as you try to negotiate at the peace table in good faith,” Granger said Wednesday after a hearing where she pressed President Obama’s UN envoy, Samantha Power, on the issue. “Well, I can’t see that that was good faith.”
Granger’s Democratic counterpart, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said she was “extremely disappointed” with Abbas’ decision. “There was a decision made last year that investing in the PA and economic development would be the most productive step we could take to encourage peace,” Lowey told Al-Monitor. She said it’s not clear whether that’s still the case.
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