WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly agreed last week to condemn a UN Security Council anti-settlements resolution and the Obama administration for allowing it through.
The resolution, which passed Jan. 5 by a vote of 342-80, said the Security Council vote last month “undermined the long-standing position of the US to oppose and veto UN Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues.”
The US abstained, refraining from exercising its veto and allowing Security Council resolution 2234 to pass 14-0. US officials said then that they could not endorse the resolution because of the inherent anti-Israel bias of the UN, but did not want to veto it because they agreed with its premise that Israeli settlement construction was illegal and an obstruction to advancing peace.
Reps. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel, D-NY, the committee’s senior Democrat, sponsored the measure.
Engel had joined another Democrat, Rep. David Price of North Carolina, in seeking to amend the resolution. Price’s altered text emphasized advancing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although it also endorsed a policy of vetoing unfair Security Council resolutions.
It refrained from criticizing the Obama administration. The House Rules Committee on Jan. 4 rejected Price’s amendment.
Royce in debate during the vote last week noted his resolution also favored the two-state solution, and said he would work with Price to advance that policy this congressional session.
But he said it was important in the near term to warn President Barack Obama in his final days in office not to take any further dramatic Israel-related actions, and opposed removing language critical of the Obama administration.
Engel urged other Democrats to back the unamended resolution, while Price urged lawmakers to oppose it.
In the end, 109 Democrats backed the resolution and 76 opposed it. Just four Republicans opposed the resolution; a small contingent of Republicans led by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, opposed including language favoring two states.
Among the Colorado delegation, Republicans Ken Buck, Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton supported the resolution, as well as Democrats Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis. Democrat Diana DeGette was the only Colorado member of Congress to vote against it.
AIPAC backed the Royce-Engel resolution. J Street backed Price’s version, which he said he would introduce as a separate resolution.
Meanwhile, according to the Times of Israel, a bipartisan coalition of US senators introduced a measure last week that expresses opposition to the Security Council resolution.
Co-sponsored by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R), the Senate resolution condemns the UN motion as “anti-Israel,” calling for it to be “repealed or fundamentally altered.”
The proposal also calls for the US to reject efforts made by outside parties to impose a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it demands the US ensure no action is taken at the upcoming Paris peace conference, set for Jan 15.
Expressing support for a two-state outcome, the text declared that any final-status resolution to the conflict needs to be settled through talks between the parties.
“Since the days of ‘Zionism is racism,’ the UN has been a fervently anti-Israel body and, unfortunately, that bias has never diminished,” Schumer said in a statement. “Knowing this, past administrations — both Democrat and Republican — have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution.
“Unfortunately, by abstaining on UN Resolution 2334, this administration has not followed in that path.” he added. “This Senate resolution reaffirms that peace must come through direct negotiations in order to achieve a sustainable two-state solution.”
Reached by the IJN, the office of Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet forwarded a statement this week expressing support for the resolution, and opposing any “efforts that undermine direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“One-sided resolutions at the United Nations, like Resolution 2234, do not bring the parties closer to direct talks,” Bennet said. “We should support policies that promote security on the ground and advance a negotiated solution with two states living side by side in peace.”
A call from the IJN requesting comment from Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner was not returned this week.
Rubio criticized the Obama administration for its failure to veto the resolution last month, the Times of Israel reported.
“Efforts to delegitimize Israel have been underway a long time at the UN and have now sadly been aided by the outgoing administration,” he said. “But the time has come to turn back the tide and renew America’s commitment to the Jewish state.”
Nineteen other senators have already signed on to support the resolution, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), Arizona John McCain (R), Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D), Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D), Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R), Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R), Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R).
The IJN contributed to this report.