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Thursday, June 09, 2011

US to bar funding for UN agencies that recognize 'Palestine'?

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, plans to introduce legislation that would withhold funding from any UN agency that recognizes a state of 'Palestine' that does not come about as the result of a negotiated settlement with Israel.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is planning to include the measure in a comprehensive bill to reform the UN she is expected to file in the coming weeks, according to Capitol Hill aides.

The language dealing with the Palestinians would seek to make it US policy to “oppose efforts by the Palestinian leadership to evade a negotiated settlement with Israel and undermine opportunities for peace by seeking de facto recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN,” according to her office.

To give that policy teeth, the legislation would require the US to withhold funding for any UN body that granted such recognition, either through passing a UN resolution or through granting membership to “Palestine” in participating agencies.


John Bolton, who served as US ambassador to the UN during the George W. Bush administration, recommended in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week that Congress pass the type of legislation to be proposed by Ros-Lehtinen.

He referred to the historical precedent during the George H.W. Bush administration in which the Palestinians unilaterally declared statehood and then tried to join UN agencies as a member state. To stop the move, then secretary of state James Baker threatened that US money to any UN agency that did so would be halted, and his approach serves as the model for Ros-Lehtinen’s bill.

“I think there would be broad support for something limiting funding [to the UN] based on what happens at the UN,” said one aide to a representative on the House appropriations committee of the possibility of Congress holding up funding if the General Assembly recognizes a Palestinian state in September.

But while Republicans have long championed UN reform and in many cases limiting contributions to the body, Democrats have been wary of conditioning funds on the grounds that it diminishes US clout in the international arena, among other concerns. Any bill passed by the Republican-dominated House would likely face an uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

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