U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said today that the U.S. must preserve and strengthen existing U.S. law requiring a cutoff of U.S. funding to any UN agency that grants membership to "Palestine." The U.S. ceased financial contributions to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on October 31, 2011 after that body admitted "Palestine" as a member. According to reports, Palestinian leaders plan to continue seeking membership or other upgraded status at other UN bodies. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"As the Palestinian leadership continues their destructive statehood scheme at the UN, the U.S. must act decisively to stop this ruse. Other than our Security Council veto, the only roadblock in Ramallah's way is that by law, the U.S. must cut off funding to any UN body that grants membership to "Palestine.'
"The Administration wants Congress to gut U.S. law and let the Administration fund UN bodies that support the Palestinian statehood scheme. But the Administration's diplomatic efforts have failed to seriously impede the scheme; in contrast, leveraging our funding to the UN has succeeded, as others see that we mean business and that they can't take reckless, anti-Israel actions with impunity. If we abandon this strategy now, we would telegraph an "all clear' for UN bodies to grant de facto recognition of a Palestinian state.
"We must further strengthen U.S. law to cut off funding to any UN body that not only grants membership to "Palestine,' but even grants some other upgraded status to Ramallah. That is how to stop this dangerous Palestinian scheme in its tracks. Any maneuvers to undercut current law will serve to pave the way forward for the Palestinians."
NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen is the author of the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act (H.R. 2829), which seeks to change the way in which the UN is funded in order to give member-states control over what their contributions pay for at the UN, as well as leverage to press for real UN reform. The bill contains a provision that reinforces and strengthens current U.S. law by cutting off U.S. funding to any UN entity which grants membership or any other upgraded status to the Palestinian mission.