Republican and Democrat lawmakers prepared amendments to the National Defense Authorization bill pending in the Senate to punish Palestinian leaders if they use their new status in the United Nations (UN) to harm Israel. Over the objections of Israel and the U.S., the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Nov. 29, voted to elevate Palestine to the status of “nonmember observer state.”
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Charles Schumer (D-NY), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation the same day that would shut down the Palestinians’ Washington office unless President Obama certifies the Palestinians are engaged in “meaningful negotiations” with Israel. Their bill would also cut off all U.S. financial aid to the Palestinians if the Palestinians attempt to use their new UN status to file charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Senator Graham stated his concern the Palestinians might want to “use the United Nations as a club against Israel."
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also filed an amendment related to this UN vote. His legislation would eliminate all U.S. funding for the UN due to the General Assembly’s choice to change Palestine’s status in the United Nations. Senator Hatch declared, “Increasing the Palestinians’ role in the United Nations is absolutely the wrong approach, especially in light of recent military developments in the Middle East. Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and any movement to strengthen one of its fiercest enemies must not be tolerated.”
Notably, 65 years ago on November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine between Arabs and Jews, paving the way for the modern statehood of Israel.
• Learn more about the Graham/Schumer and the Hatch legislation.
• Find more coverage here and here.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations
Published: November 30, 2012