US Senate warns Palestinans on statehood bid at United Nations General Assembly

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The United States Senate has unanimously approved a resolution warning Palestinians they could face cuts in US aid for pursuing United Nations recognition of a future state not defined in direct talks with Israel.

The measure, which passed late Tuesday, also raises the prospects of halting assistance to any Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas until the radical movement renounces violence and accepts Israel's right to exist.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and Republican Senator Susan Collins crafted the measure, which was co-sponsored by 88 of their colleagues.

The measure reaffirms US support for a two-state solution that would see "a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition."

But it expresses "strong opposition" to any Palestinian efforts at the United Nations in September to gain the world body's recognition for their state outside a negotiated settlement with Israel.

The US House of Representatives was expected to consider a companion measure.

Peace talks ground to a halt in September 2010 when Israel failed to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Since then, the Palestinians have refused to return to talks as long as Israel builds on land they want for a future state.

The Senate resolution supports US President Barack Obama's opposition to a Palestinian push at the UN and urges him to announce that Washington will veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood before the UN Security Council unless it is the result of Israel-Palestinian talks.

The measure also warns US lawmakers "will consider restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority should it persist in efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by turning to the United Nations or other international bodies."