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Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | Ryan Jones
The Palestinian leadership appeared increasingly unsure of itself over the past week when questioned about its unilateral statehood bid at the UN next month.
Various Western and Arabic news agencies suggested the regime of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was rethinking its plan to request membership as a sovereign nation in the UN General Assembly.
Former Palestinian Authority Information Minister Nabil Amr said that is precisely what he is advising Abbas to do.
Speaking to the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Amr warned that "the Americans have not hidden their position and threats to impose sanctions not only against us, but also against those who would vote in favor of the statehood plan."
Indeed, the US Congress has threatened to cut all ties to the Palestinian Authority if it goes forward with the unilateral statehood bid, which includes asking the Security Council for official recognition. The Obama Administration has already said it will veto the Security Council vote, but can do nothing to stop a majority of the General Assembly nations from recognizing "Palestine" in a non-binding decision.
A senior Western diplomat on Wednesday reiterated to The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian stunt at the UN next month will "make it harder for the US to have relations with the Palestinian Authority."
At risk will be direct US financial aid to the Palestinian government and American training of Palestinian security forces. While both programs are determined by the White House, Congress is unlikely to let US President Barack Obama continue supporting a Palestinian Authority that has eschewed the bilateral peace process.
Despite these warnings, and signs that the Palestinian leadership is getting scared, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat this week insisted that the UN bid is scheduled to go forward.
Erekat told the Jordan News Agency that the Palestinian Authority heirarchy has no intention of abandoning its quest for recognition of statehood at the UN.
Erekat said it was too late to take any other course of action, which he backed up by noting that just last week the Palestinian Authority rejected a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restart peace negotiations on the basis of Palestinian border demands.