As Congress threatens to cut aid to Palestinians for seeking membership in the United Nations, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is urging the U.S. to support the Palestinian’s statehood bid.

Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, wrote a New York Times op-ed Thursday urging the U.S. — which has threatened to veto the statehood bid — to instead support it.

“The Palestinian Authority, unlike Hamas, is pursuing statehood nonviolently and diplomatically now, so why are we discouraging its efforts?” Ellison wrote.

Ellison, who considers himself an ally of both Israel and the Palestinians, said that contentious issues like borders, the status of Jerusalem and refugees would still need to be negotiated. But the statehood bid would help move negotiations forward, he said.

“I don’t disagree with people who say negotiations are how we should proceed, but we haven’t been proceeding that way,” Ellison said in an interview. “Things have been stuck. So In order to move the ball a little bit, I think the Palestinian leadership is well within their rights.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations Friday.

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