Diplomacy

Democratic Leadership Incensed by U.S. Abstention on Anti-Israel UN Resolution

The Democratic Party’s top congressional leaders have continued to criticize the Obama administration for its refusal last month to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli activities in eastern Jerusalem. That number has now grown, with more than 30 Democratic representatives and 10 senators (a quarter of the Democratic Senate delegation) cosponsoring motions in their chambers condemning the UN resolution this week.

The House resolution, introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), is scheduled for a vote on Thursday. It condemned UN Security Council Resolution 2334 for “effectively lend[ing] legitimacy to efforts by the Palestinian Authority to impose its own solution through international organizations and through unjustified boycotts or divestment campaigns against Israel,” and for “effectively stat[ing] that the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, are ‘occupied territory’.”

That language echoes remarks made by the party’s leaders in the House. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stated after the U.S.’s abstention that “The two-state solution has been the bedrock of peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians for decades. The resolution passed by the UN Security Council today does not bring us closer to this goal.” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House’s number-two Democrat, added that he was “extremely disappointed by this action and today’s vote. Blaming Israel for the continuation of the conflict is not only wrong and unjust; it will also do nothing to move the parties closer to a peaceful and lasting solution.” And Engel stated that the resolution “places the blame for the current impasse in negotiations entirely on Israel, asking nothing of the Palestinians. This offends me as someone who has been a firm believer in the two-state solution. I hope that in my lifetime, we will come to see two states for two peoples. However, this resolution sets back this dream. A sustainable solution to the conflict will only come from direct negotiations between the two parties.”

The Senate’s parallel motion was introduced Wednesday by Sens. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and committee member Marco Rubio (R – Fla.). It calls for the UN resolution “to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that it is no longer one-sided and allows all final status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved through direct bilateral negotiations between the parties.”

“Going forward, Congress will take action against efforts at the UN or beyond that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel,” Cardin pledged in a statement introducing the Senate resolution. “I hope that in 2017 we can look at policies and actions that facilitate resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and I stand ready to support productive efforts.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the new Senate Minority Leader and a cosponsor of the Senate motion, added that direct negotiations, rather than using UN resolutions as international baselines, were the way forward for Israeli-Palestinian peace. “Unfortunately, by abstaining on United Nations Resolutions 2334, this administration has not followed in that path,” he said. “This Senate resolution reaffirms that peace must come through direct negotiations in order to achieve a sustainable two-state solution.”

Cardin and Schumer were also critical of the UN resolution shortly after it was passed. Schumer tweeted then that it was “Extremely frustrating, disappointing & confounding that the Administration has failed to veto the UN resolution.” Cardin added in a statement that the resolution “makes direct negotiations more, not less, challenging.”

[Photo: HouseDems / YouTube ]