The Washington Post

Democrats press Europeans on Palestinian statehood bid

The two top House Democrats, along with 56 other Democrats, are sending a letter today to 40 European heads of state, urging them not to support a Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations.

Those 58 account for about 30 percent of House Democrats. The list included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.). Their letter follows comments from several prominent Republicans in Congress — including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee — criticizing the Palestinian bid.

In their letter , Democrats said that a U.N. vote to recognize Palestinian statehood could upset the long-running Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It could even cause renewed violence in the region, the Democrats said.

“It is our strong belief that such unilateral action would have devastating consequences for the peace process and the Palestinians themselves,” they wrote.

The letter also says that a vote for Palestinian recognition would cause the United States to “reconsider its assistance program for the Palestinian Authority and other aspects of U.S.-Palestinian relations.”The U.S. provides about $500 million a year in economic assistance and training aid for the Palestinian security forces.

Official recognition by the U.N. could allow Palestinians to pursue action against Israel in international courts. The United States and Israel have sought to forestall a vote, saying it would void a framework set up in the 1993 Oslo accords. That framework allowed an interim period of Palestinian self-rule, and then further negotiations to establish a two-state solution.

“We are confident that your government shares the United States’ commitment to a comprehensive resolution of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the Democrats’ letter said. “That outcome can only be achieved through direct negotiations. A vote on a unilateral U.N. resolution will likely set prospects for peace back years.”

David A. Fahrenthold covers Congress for the Washington Post. He has been at the Post since 2000, and previously covered (in order) the D.C. police, New England, and the environment.


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