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GOP Hopes To Punish U.N., Palestinians Over Statehood

Republican U.S. senators introduced the first efforts to penalize the Palestinians and the United Nations should the body affirm enhanced Palestinian status.

Language proposed this week as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would cut assistance to the Palestinians by 50 percent and U.S. fees to the United Nations by the same amount should the effort by the Palestinians to gain recognition as a non-member observer state succeed in the General Assembly. It would also cut by 20 percent U.S. aid to any country voting to approve.

The Palestine Liberation Organization is set to submit its bid for non-member observer state status on Thursday.

The amendment language, first reported on the Americans for Peace Now website, was introduced by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

A separate amendment to the same bill introduced by Barrasso, Lee, Inhofe and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would cut off all funding should the Palestinians succeed in their bid to change the PLO’s status.

The Defense Authorization Act does not otherwise deal with the Palestinians; its passage, however, is a Senate priority, and would accelerate such cuts should they make it into the final version of the bill.

U.S. law institutes total cuts to Palestinians and the United Nations in the case of full Palestinian U.N. membership, but has no provisions to penalize enhanced observer status.

The PLO currently is a non-member observer entity.

Several European allies are expected to support the measure along with the vast majority of U.N. member states. Ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently announced that he has no objection to the move.

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