Palestinians Decry US Lawmakers Threats to Cut Aid over Statehood Plan
Palestinians on Thursday denounced plans by the US Congress to cut aid if Palestinian President Yasser Arafat declares statehood without a peace deal with Israel.
Speaking to reporters after his return from the failed peace summit at Camp David, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told reporters in Jericho that the US should "give peace a chance" rather than make threats.
US lawmakers on Wednesday proposed a bill that would cut off US aid to the Palestinians if Arafat follows through on his repeated vow to implement statehood on September 13th, the deadline for a comprehensive accord.
The legislation also forbids Washington from spending money to establish diplomatic ties with such a state and would urge the White House to instruct the US ambassador to the United Nations to oppose UN recognition.
The US lawmakers blamed the failure of the peace talks on Arafat, saying he had failed to make the necessary concessions.
Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said the lawmakers were living in the past, but said he was not surprised to hear such proposals during election season in the United States.
"They believe they can twist President Arafat's arm with such threats but they should realize that peace cannot be achieved that way," he told Voice of Palestine radio.
On his return to Gaza on Wednesday after the breakdown of the 15-day summit, Arafat vowed again to declare a state on September 13 with Jerusalem as its capital.
But Israeli negotiator Gilad Sher told public radio that such a declaration would go against an "understanding" reached at the summit.
"At Camp David, there was an understanding between Israel, the Palestinians and the United States that Arafat will not unilaterally declare a state on September 13th," Sher said - JERICHO, West Bank (AFP)
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