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Bill would cut U.S. funds to U.N. entities that upgrade Palestinians

(JTA) — Legislation was introduced in Congress that would cut off U.S. funds to any United Nations entity that upgrades the status of the Palestinians in response to their statehood push.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act on Tuesday. 

The bill, which has 57 co-sponsors, would cut off U.S. contributions to any U.N. entity that grants state-level membership or any other upgraded status to the Palestinian observer mission. The legislation also would withhold some U.S. dues to the United Nations if it does not change its funding system, making dues voluntary rather than assessed.

"It is time to use all our leverage to stop this unilateral Palestinian scheme — for the sake of our ally Israel and all free democracies, for the sake of peace and security, and for the sake of achieving a U.N. that upholds its founding principles," Ros-Lehtinen, a longtime critic of the U.N.’s operations, said in an Op-Ed in the Miami Herald in which she described the legislation.

Ros-Lehtinen pointed out that in 1989, when the Palestine Liberation Organization pushed to have a Palestinian state join the United Nations, that then-President George H.W. Bush "made clear that the U.S. would cut off funding to any UN entity that upgraded the status of the Palestinian observer mission in any way. The UN was forced to choose between isolating Israel and receiving U.S. contributions, and they chose the latter."

The Palestinian Authority reportedly will ask the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state on Sept. 20, the first day of the body’s new session.

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