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Why even Israel supporters are worried about US freeze on Palestinian aid

The Palestinian campaign for statehood hasn't sat well with Washington, and now some members of Congress have decided to freeze some of the $500 million US aid to Palestinians.

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Palestinians hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against a freeze by U.S Congress on aid for the Palestinian Authority, in the West Bank city of Ramallah October 4, 2011.

Mohamad Torokman/ REUTERS

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The Palestinian campaign for statehood, waged at this year's United Nations General Assembly, has not sat well with Washington, and now some members of Congress are doing something about it: They are placing holds on parts of the $500 million in annual assistance the Palestinians receive from the US.

The congressional moves come as the Palestinian drive for international recognition advanced Wednesday when the executive board of UNESCO, the UN Education, Science, and Cultural Organization, voted in Paris to recommend to the agency’s 193 member states that an independent Palestine be admitted as a full member.

The Obama administration, which opposes the UN statehood bid and vows to veto it in the Security Council, nevertheless is against any cutoff of Palestinian aid. While in Israel this week to meet with his Israeli counterpart and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said “now is not the time” to withhold funding that provides “benefits” to both the Palestinians and to Israel.

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