Hillary Threatens Palestinian AidThe Associated Press, 07/26/2000
By Beth J. Harpaz
NEW YORK (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton said U.S. aid to Palestinians should be cut off if they unilaterally declare statehood.
``It must be clear that any unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood would be entirely unacceptable and should be met with a cutoff of United States assistance,'' she said in a statement released Tuesday night, after the Camp David peace talks collapsed.
The New York Senate candidate's position appeared to go beyond what President Clinton has said in urging the Israelis and the Palestinians to keep trying to reach an agreement.
A trilateral statement from the United States, Israel and the Palestinians on the Camp David summit said that both sides ``understand the importance of avoiding unilateral actions,'' but Arafat has threatened to declare statehood if no agreement is reached by Sept. 13.
The first lady is seeking to shore up her pro-Israel credentials in New York, where Jews make up 12 percent of the electorate. Polls show about 15 percent of them are undecided about whether to support her or her Republican opponent, Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio.
The Clinton Senate campaign has been involved in a number of flaps involving Jewish issues, including the meeting last year between the first lady and Yasser Arafat's wife that resulted in their much-publicized kiss.
Two weeks ago, another controversy erupted when a new book, ``State of a Union,'' accused Hillary Clinton of using an anti-Semitic obscenity during an argument with a man who worked on Bill Clinton's 1974 Congressional campaign in Arkansas. She denied the allegation.
A memo subsequently surfaced in which an adviser to the Clinton Senate campaign asked Jewish supporters to call Jewish newspapers and defend her, but urged them to conceal the fact that the campaign had asked them to do so.
In 1998, the first lady spurred controversy when she said that a Palestinian state was ``very important'' to Middle East peace.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.