Palestinian: US warns of aid cut for statehood bid

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinians’ chief negotiator said Friday a U.S. diplomat had warned of a cut in aid to the Palestinians if they proceed with a unilateral bid for statehood at the U.N in September.

The U.S. said negotiator Saeb Erekat had mischaracterized the words of the U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, but declined to comment further.

Israel and the U.S. strongly oppose the Palestinians’ U.N. plan, saying Palestinian statehood should only be achieved through negotiations. They maintain that a Palestinian state must emerge from Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been stalled for almost a year.

Erekat said the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein, told him Friday that the U.S. Congress will take “punitive measures” if the Palestinians proceed with seeking U.N. recognition of statehood.

“It will stop granting the Palestinians its annual aid package” of about $470 million, Rubinstein said, according to Erekat.

“If the Palestinian Authority seeks to upgrade its position at the U.N. through the General Assembly then the American Congress will take punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority including halting American assistance,” Erekat quoted the consul-general as saying.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have warned that American aid to the Palestinians is in jeopardy over issues including the push for statehood at the United Nations, as well as ties to Hamas and unwillingness to restart negotiations with Israel.

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