The US House of Representatives was expected to vote Wednesday on a bill withholding diplomatic recognition and all non-humanitarian aid from any unilaterally declared Palestinian state.
The move came as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators entered their second day of separate talks with US officials here, as Washington pursued breakthroughs in the Middle East peace process.
After meeting separately with US special Middle East envoy Dennis Ross late Tuesday, the teams were to meet again with the US team at an undisclosed location in the Washington area, a senior State Department official said.
"We met with Israel and Palestinian negotiators yesterday separately and will continue our meetings today," a senior State Department official said.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to characterize the talks, which are taking place under a veil of almost absolute secrecy.
The House International Relations Committee late Tuesday cleared the sanctions measure unanimously, and the full House was to take it up Wednesday at an as yet unspecified time.
"The Palestinian threat to declare an independent state unilaterally constitutes a fundamental violation of the underlying principles of the Oslo Accords and the Middle East peace process," said panel's chairman, Republican Representative Ben Gilman, who authored the bill.
"Our intention with this legislation is to provide a clear message to Chairman (Yasser) Arafat and the Palestinian Authority that they must no provoke a new cycle of violence or war in the Middle East by unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state," said Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, a co-sponsor – WASHINGTON (AFP)
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