Consulate says US envoy did not threaten aid to PA 28Aug11 August 28, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  27 August 2011

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The US Consulate in Jerusalem denied Friday that its top envoy had warned the Palestinian Authority of “punitive measures” if the Palestinians sought membership in the United Nations.

The office of PLO official Saeb Erekat quoted consul-general Daniel Rubinstein as saying the US Congress would take punitive measures, “including cutting US aid,” if the Palestinians tried to upgrade their position at the UN.

But the consulate’s deputy spokesperson Arlissa Reynolds said Erekat’s account of the meeting in Jericho was “not an accurate portrayal of the US position,” nor did Rubinstein make the comments attributed to him.

Reynolds said the US position was to encourage a return to negotiations with Israel. The US opposes initiatives by the Palestinians through the United Nations, she told Ma’an.

“President Obama laid out goals and principles for negotiations and our intention is to continue to work with the parties on that basis. It’s the only realistic way forward for both parties to achieve their goals,” she said.

“As President Obama has made clear, initiatives through the UN will not bring about the two-state solution and enduring peace, which both the parties and the US seek,” the spokeswoman added.

“Therefore, we continue to oppose initiatives by the Palestinians in the UN. There is no substitute for serious and substantive negotiations between the parties, and that remains our focus.”

Erekat’s statement had quoted Rubinstein as saying the US would use its veto if the PA went to the Security Council, while the US Congress “will take punitive measures against it, including cutting US aid.”

The statement also said Erekat urged the Americans to change their position on the issue because “the right decision is to support Palestine’s membership of the UN,” the German Press Agency reported.

DPA said Erekat, who had also met with the EU representative to the Palestinian Authority, Christian Burger, also urged Europe to support Palestinian efforts to get full membership of the UN.

The EU, he said, “should take the correct position, not the easy position.”

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