The UN General Assembly meets for the vote to upgrade the Palestinians’ status at 3 p.m. today, which will almost certainly pass. But both the UN and the Palestinians have little to gain from a successful vote, and a lot to lose. Senator Orrin Hatch has already filed an amendment to the upcoming defense bill that would abolish UN funding if the status change is approved:
Ahead of the vote, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch filed an amendment to a defense bill that would eliminate funding for the United Nations if the General Assembly changes Palestine’s status.
“Increasing the Palestinians’ role in the United Nations is absolutely the wrong approach, especially in light of recent military developments in the Middle East,” he said in a statement. “Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and any movement to strengthen one of its fiercest enemies must not be tolerated.”
Senator John Barrasso has submitted a different amendment to the defense bill, which would slash U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority by 50 percent, and U.S. aid to any UN member country that votes for the status change by 20 percent. Barrasso writes at NRO:
Yesterday, I introduced an amendment to the Senate defense bill that makes it clear that undermining the peace process comes at a cost. My amendment will specifically cut 50 percent of the total U.S. funds to the Palestinian Authority and also to any U.N. entity that grants the Palestinians a status change. It also reduces by 20 percent all U.S. foreign assistance to any country voting for the status change.
The Palestinians have a history of trying to use outside groups like the U.N. to skirt the peace process. In 2011, the Palestinians sought membership in UNESCO, and got it. This automatically triggered legal restrictions on U.S. financial support, and the Obama administration was forced to cut aid to UNESCO.
At the beginning of this year, the Obama administration irresponsibly changed course and said that it would try to waive these restrictions. It signaled that the United Nations can continue to undermine that peace process with impunity and raised questions about President Obama’s support for Israel. Today’s U.N. vote is a direct consequence of the administration’s record of mixed signals about the peace process.
And that’s just from the Senate. If the vote goes through, we’ll likely see similar proposals from House Republicans, who hardly need another reason to object to UN funding or foreign aid to the PA.