- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2011

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — Palestinians have long been skeptical of America’s ability to help them win independence.

But low expectations have turned into frustration and in some cases outright anger after the U.S. threatened to derail a bid for U.N. recognition of an independent state and Congress put a hold on $200 million in badly needed aid.

Protests have been small so far, from burning a few U.S. flags and pictures of President Obama to editorials blasting U.S. policy and portraying Washington as beholden to Israel.

On Tuesday, about 30 people accosted a U.S. diplomatic convoy in the West Bank town of Ramallah, chanting “shame on you” and hurling a shoe outside a U.S.-hosted reception at a local restaurant.

Some senior politicians and well-known opinion makers have publicly written off the United States as a credible broker, tapping into a broad sentiment among Palestinians that going to the U.N., in defiance of Washington, was the right move.

Washington’s threat to block U.N. recognition of Palestine is an “act of aggression,” said writer Hani al-Masri, who boycotted the Ramallah reception by U.S. diplomats.

U.S. officials did not comment publicly, but privately played down the problem.

Mr. al-Masri says anger would only grow if the Obama administration goes ahead with a veto in the U.N. Security Council, the only body that can bestow full membership.

The Security Council is reviewing the Palestinian application, and it’s not clear whether the Palestinians can muster the needed majority of nine of 15 members that would trigger the U.S. veto.

A potential cut in U.S. aid to the Palestinians could further deepen the rift. In late August, members of Congress put a hold on some $200 million, or nearly one-third of the U.S. funding for the Palestinians for 2011.

The congressional action was meant as a warning, but it did not deter Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who submitted the request for recognition of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem - lands captured by Israel in 1967 - to the U.N. a month later.

Since then, U.S. aid programs worth tens of millions of dollars have been suspended for lack of funding.

The Obama administration has been trying to get Congress to reconsider, arguing that such cuts only weaken those working for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

But the administration also insists that a Palestinian state can only arise from negotiations, not in the United Nations, and has lobbied Security Council members not to support the bid for recognition.

Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel have been on hold in since 2008.

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