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U.S. Senate: Palestinians risking aid by seeking statehood vote

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to seek a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

The resolution passed unanimously on Tuesday also reaffirmed U.S. opposition to any Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless the group renounces terrorism and is willing to make peace with Israel. The United States and European Union consider Hamas a terrorist organization. 

Led by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the resolution had 88 co-sponsors.

"The Senate has delivered a clear message to the international community that United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state at this time does not further the peace process," Cardin said in a statement. "A permanent and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations."

Earlier this month, Cardin told a group of Israel supporters that the Palestinians have "the upper hand" in pushing through a General Assembly resolution in September with the number of nations who might vote with them.

"Our resolution sends a clear message to the Palestinian Authority that any effort to seek unilateral statehood at the United Nations will have serious consequences for future U.S. aid to the Palestinians," Collins said in a statement. "The road to peace is through negotiations, not subverting them and making a case before the United Nations."

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee issued a statement applauding the resolution. A similar measure is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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