394 members of the House of Representatives—90 percent of the total—have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama “not to back any resolution at the United Nations that sets parameters for Israeli-Palestinian talks.”
In the letter, the members of Congress declared they are “deeply troubled by reports that one-sided initiatives may arise at the U.N. in the coming months” and that such efforts “dangerously hinder the prospects for resuming direct negotiations.” The lawmakers told the president that his “continued commitment to longstanding U.S. policy to veto one-sided U.N. Security Council resolutions remains fundamentally critical.” The letter was spearheaded by Democratic and Republican leaders on the Appropriations and Foreign Affairs Committees and was also signed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), among many others.
Lawmakers from both parties made their concerns clear during a Wednesday hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. The leaders of the subcommittee, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), were both among the lead writers of the letter.
Ros-Lehtinen pushed Assistant Secretary of State Anne W. Patterson, who was testifying before the committee, to “state unequivocally” that the U.S. “will not introduce, we will not support, that we will block, that we will veto any resolution at the U.N. Security Council that seeks to impose a two-state solution on Israel or that offers some artificial timeline for negotiations.” Patterson responded that without seeing the resolution, she could not say whether the U.S. would issue a such a veto. “This absence of an American voice saying that we will veto gives wind beneath the wings of the Palestinians to continue this unilateral statehood scheme,” Ros-Lehtinen concluded.
“As we continue to work toward the goal of two states for two peoples, I would hope the administration will work to prevent any attempts to circumvent the direct negotiation process, which is the only way that peace can be achieved,” Deutch added.
Presidential candidates from both parties have expressed their concern that the White House would fail to use its UN Security Council veto on this issue.
Echoing her call at last month’s AIPAC Policy Conference to “vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the UN Security Council,” Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this week in an interview with the New York Jewish Week that the “United Nations is not the venue” to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump also said at AIPAC emphatically that a solution imposed by the United Nations would be “a catastrophe and a disaster for Israel.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R – Texas) said, in a similar vein that, if he were president, “If the Palestinians try to push through a United Nations resolution to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood, America will veto that resolution.”
The Obama administration stated that it opposed UN-imposed peace plans in December 2014, the last time a major push of this nature occurred.
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