Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Blog

Last week, we wrote about Washington’s reaction to the Palestinian Authority’s successful bid to upgrade its UN status to “non-member observer state.”

Though the move has few real-world implications, it produced a stream of condemnation from President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and others.

This week, we also saw several official Congressional responses to the move.

One Dear Colleague letter sent by the office of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proposed to send letters “thanking the seven foreign governments who joined the United States and Israel in opposing the United Nations General Assembly’s recent decision to recognize a non-existent Palestinian state.”

The letter to these countries – Canada, Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Panama – expresses support for “the achievement of a negotiated, true, and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” It goes on to state, “We appreciate your courageous opposition to the UN General Assembly’s irresponsible decision to support this reckless unilateral Palestinian statehood scheme…lasting peace and security between Israel and the Palestinians is even further away from becoming a reality.”

Lest you this kind of irresponsible rhetoric is limited to the Republican Party, another letter is currently circulating the House, signed by ranking members of both parties in the Foreign Affairs Committee. Addressed to President Obama, the signers state that they are “deeply disappointed and upset that the Palestinian leadership…violated both the letter and spirit of the Oslo Accords.”

It recommends a closure of the PLO office in Washington DC, and warns that further international recognition of Palestine “would not only unfairly target our Israeli ally, but would devastate efforts to resume the peace process and do possible irreparable harm to those international institutions. We should do everything possible to make sure that does not happen, including…enforcing U.S. laws that require withholding contributions from any international forum that grants membership to the PLO.

Meanwhile, Congress has been deafeningly silent on Israel’s universally-condemned settlement expansion project to cut off Ramallah from Jerusalem, a move which even Israeli government officials recognize as likely to further erode trust and lead to renewed violence. Combine that with the House’s unshakable belief that 179 other countries were willing puppets of the Palestinians, and that Palestine’s new “honorary” status at the UN somehow grants it terrifying power, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Congress may need to rethink their understanding of the phrases “unilateral scheme” and “violation of the spirit of the Oslo Accords.”

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