U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) have introduced legislation which takes a tough line against the Palestinians bid today at the United Nations General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a "non-member observer state.' The measure is expected to pass over objections by the United States and Israel.
The Graham-Schumer-Barrasso-Menendez measure:
forces the immediate closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) office in Washington unless the Palestinians have entered into meaningful negotiations with Israel
eliminates American foreign assistance to the Palestinian Authority if the International Criminal Court adjudicates any matter proposed or supported by the Palestinian Authority.
The legislation comes on the same day the Palestinians plan to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a "non-member observer state.' This authority will give the Palestinians the ability to file frivolous cases targeting Israel and the United States at the International Criminal Court.
"This unilateral approach by the Palestinian Authority to gaining sovereignty is provocative, reckless and threatens to inflame passions throughout the region," said Menendez. "The day after the resolution, nothing will have changed, including America's unwavering support for Israel during this period of political turbulence in the Middle East. We will not stand idly by and allow the Palestinians to evade the peace process by pressing their political cause through alternate means and we will not provide financial support, or political support in the form of offices in the U.S., if the Palestinians aren't serious about pursuing real peace through real negotiations. The choice is theirs."
"Granting United Nations membership to the Palestinian authority is a nightmare in the making for the peace process and future relations between the Congress and UN," said Graham. "Granting a form of member-status to the Palestinians goes around the only viable way to negotiate a two state solution, that's between the parties themselves. I fear the Palestinian authority will now be able to use the United Nations as a political club against Israel. Most importantly, they will file complaints in the International Criminal Court against the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) or any other Israeli institution engaged in defending the Jewish state. This provocative step by the Palestinians could lead to using the International Criminal Court as a form to marginalize the state of Israel, an action that will not be accepted without consequence in the Congress. We will not use American taxpayer dollars to support a Palestinian entity whose primary goal, if they file a complaint in the ICC, is to marginalize the Jewish state rather than live in peace with the people of Israel. The United States national security interests are best served by a traditional peace process between the two factions dealing with each other directly."
Schumer said: "We are committed to using every means at our disposal to ensure that this UN vote does not serve as a precedent for elevating the status of the PLO in other UN bodies or international forums. Over the past year, Palestinian leaders have indicated an intention to apply for full membership in the International Criminal Court and over a dozen other international institutions in order to assert Palestinian claims against Israel. These unhelpful efforts would not only unfairly target our Israeli ally, but would devastate efforts to resume the peace process and do possibly irreparable harm to those international institutions. We stand united in preventing this from happening, and will do everything in our power to block the Palestinians from using the International Criminal Court and other international bodies to assert Palestinian claims against Israel."
"The best path to a true and lasting peace is through direct negotiations between the two parties -- not through manipulations at the United Nations," said Barrasso. "The Palestinian Authority's attempt to change their United Nations' status is a purely political maneuver that will circumvent direct peace process negotiations with Israel. If the Palestinians move forward with this irresponsible plan, they will violate international agreements, undermine the peace process and threaten the security of our ally."