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Palestinians defy US warning to drop statehood bid

June 30, 2011 3:23 P.M. (Updated: July 2, 2011 10:43 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- The Palestinians on Thursday brushed off pressure from the US Senate to drop their bid for UN recognition of a future state, saying it sprang from pro-Israel bias.

"It is a new attempt by the US Congress to pressure us and it is blindly biased toward Israel," Nimer Hammad, a senior political adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, told AFP.

"We reject this decision and the Palestinian people will not succumb to such pressure and attempts."

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution warning the Palestinians they could face cuts in US aid for pursuing UN endorsement of a future state not defined as a result of direct negotiations with Israel.

The measure also raises the prospects of halting assistance to any Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, unless the radical movement renounces violence and accepts Israel's right to exist.

The House of Representatives is expected to consider a companion measure.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ground to a halt in September 2010 when Israel failed to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Since then, the Palestinians have refused to return to talks as long as Israel builds on land they want for a future state.

The Senate resolution supports US President Barack Obama's opposition to the Palestinian strategy and urges him to pledge that Washington will veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood before the UN Security Council unless it is the result of Israel-Palestinian talks.

The measure also warns that US lawmakers "will consider restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority should it persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies."

The Palestinian leadership is currently pursuing a diplomatic campaign to garner support for UN statehood recognition in September.

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