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U.S. Lawmakers Warn Abbas Against Unilateral Palestinian Moves

A Palestinian gambit that saw Ramallah apply or membership in the International Criminal Court was met with swift criticism from U.S. lawmakers, who threatened repercussions for the Palestinian Authority (PA) following President Mahmoud Abbas’ Wednesday announcement. The bid puts the PA in violation of U.S. legislation that conditions aid – which amounts to some $400 million per year – on the Palestinians meeting long-standing treaty requirements forbidding unilateral moves that upgrade their international status outside of negotiations with Israel.

Veteran Associated Press diplomatic correspondent Matt Lee on Friday afternoon quoted a U.S. official saying that “[i]t should come as no surprise that there will be implications” as a result of the Palestinian bid. State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke on Wednesday released a statement calling the Palestinians’ move “entirely counter-productive” and one that “does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.” Foreign Policy noted that the statement from Foggy Bottom was “likely to pale in comparison to the reaction from Congress, which has long threatened to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority if it pursues membership in the court.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Wednesday that she was “deeply frustrated” by the gambit, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) vowed that Congress would “do everything in its power to block funds to the PA.” The Times of Israel characterized the mood on Capitol Hill as one of “bipartisan frustration with Abbas’s decision to put a Palestinian statehood resolution before the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, and, after the resolution was defeated, to sign on to the ICC on Wednesday.”

[Photo: F Delventhal / Flickr ]