Call for veto of UN anti-settlement resolution grows stronger

Cnaan Liphshiz

UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 21, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(JTA) — A growing list of Jewish groups and U.S. lawmakers joined the call urging the Obama administration to veto an anti-settlement resolution at the U.N. Security Council.

The World Jewish Congress, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs joined incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and other lawmakers in urging the administration to veto the resolution expected to come up for a vote on Friday afternoon.

The resolution, which calls Israeli settlements “a flagrant violation of international law” that damage the prospects of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was introduced by Egypt in coordination with the Palestinians. Amid growing pressure from Israel and President-elect Donald Trump, Egypt put the resolution on hold on Thursday. On Friday, four Security Council member states — New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal — said they would submit their own draft resolution amid speculation that President Barack Obama intended to let it pass.

“We urge the United States, Israel’s greatest ally, to veto this text,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a statement Friday. “It is counterproductive, and does nothing to enhance the role of the United Nations in resolving the Middle East conflict.”

Schumer said in a statement Friday that he spoke directly with the administration several times, as recently as that morning, “and in the strongest terms possible urged them to veto this resolution.”

“Whatever one’s views are on settlements, anyone who cares about the future of Israel and peace in the region knows that the U.N., with its one sidedness, is exactly the wrong forum to bring about peace,” he wrote.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs both released statements Friday urging the administration to veto the resolution.

“All those who support a peaceful resolution to the conflict should oppose this resolution,” said David Bernstein, JCPA’s president. “If the Palestinians feel that the UN will deliver Israel for them, why would they negotiate?”

The junior senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, also a Democrat, wrote in a statement: “I call on the Administration to do everything in its power to make sure this resolution is not put forward or passed.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wrote in a statement sent out by his office: “Unilateral resolutions of this kind do not advance the cause of peace, and I would urge the Administration to make every effort to oppose its being brought forward and make it clear that it will veto the measure if necessary.”

Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., backed the veto calls, adding he would work in a bipartisan fashion to reduce U.S. funding to the United Nations should the draft resolution pass.

According to The Times of Israel, Israeli officials were furious that the Obama administration allegedly was going to allow the vote to pass. The news site quoted someone described as “an Israeli official” as saying: “President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.”

According to Reuters, a senior U.S. official denied that the Obama administration had been involved in creating or pushing for the resolution.

On Facebook, Trump wrote that the Egyptian draft resolution should be vetoed.

“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” he wrote.

Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: “The U.S. should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday,” referring to the Egyptian text. It was an unusually public appeal regarding an issue that is usually coordinated between the two allies behind closed doors, suggesting that Netanyahu was not certain that the United States under Obama would indeed veto.

Israel approached the Trump campaign after it felt that it had failed to persuade the Obama administration to veto the planned vote, an Israeli official told CNN. The official said that Israel “implored the White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump.”

The United States has long complained of anti-Israel bias at the United Nations. Under Obama, Washington also publicly criticized Israeli construction in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and all other lands captured by Israel in 1967 as detrimental to the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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