Schumer: Obama Administration's 'Actions Will Move Us Further from Peace in Middle East'

By Patrick Goodenough | December 27, 2016 | 12:27am EST
Sen. Chuck Schumer follows President Obama on Jan. 21, 2013, the day of Obama's ceremonial swearing in for his second term. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, Pool)

( – Republican lawmakers unsurprisingly slammed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel and the Obama administration’s decision to allow it to pass, but almost one-third of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate – 15 of the 46 senators – have also come out publicly since Friday against the move.

“Extremely frustrating, disappointing & confounding that the Administration has failed to veto the U.N. resolution,” tweeted incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), setting the tone.

Schumer described the U.N. as a “fervently anti-Israel body.”

“Knowing this, past Administrations – both Democrat and Republican – have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution,” he said. “Unfortunately, this Administration has not followed in that path and its actions will move us further from peace in the Middle East.”

At least 14 of Schumer’s Democratic colleagues reacted to the move with statements or social media posts slamming passage of the resolution, with some expressing dismay that the administration did not veto the measure.

“I am profoundly disappointed by the lack of American leadership shown at the U.N. today,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). “The only way to achieve a true and lasting peace is through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and I fear today’s outcome was a devastating setback, not a victory, in that endeavor.”

“The United States’ abstention from voting on such a flagrantly one-sided resolution is unconscionable,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Vt.), who before the vote had described the resolution as “misguided and one-sided attempt backed by the Palestinian Authority to isolate Israel and weaken the peace process.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he was “dismayed that the Administration departed from decades of U.S. policy by not vetoing the U.N. resolution.”

“I am disappointed that the U.S. delegation did not use veto power on security council,” tweeted Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), another of those who had earlier urged the administration to kill the measure.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was “greatly disappointed” at the failure to veto a one-sided resolution, while Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he was “deeply disappointed that the administration set aside longstanding U.S. policy to allow such a one-sided resolution to pass.”

Other Senate Democrats who came out in opposition of the resolution, either on the eve of or following Friday’s vote, included Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Christopher Coons (D-Dela.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

In a vote of 14-0, with the U.S. abstaining, the U.N. Security Council on December 23, 2016 passes a resolution condemning Israel for settlement activity in disputed territory. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

Two of their colleagues, meanwhile, issued statements of support for the move.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the incoming ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the decision “sends a strong message that the United States still supports a two-state solution.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) echoed the administration’s assertion that the presence of Israeli settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians was diminishing prospects for a two-state solution. (Although Leahy called the territory in question “disputed,” that resolution text does not, but defines it as “Palestinian territory.)”

A review of their official websites and Twitter feeds brought up no reactions to the Security Council resolution from the other 29 Democratic senators, including three (Sens. Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski and Harry Reid) who are leaving the Senate at year’s end.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats who criticized the resolution and administration’s failure to veto included Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who expressed his “very significant disagreement with the Administration's decision to abstain.”

The abstention, he said, “risks lending legitimacy to efforts by Palestinians to impose their own solution through international fora and trough unjustified boycotts or divestment campaigns.”

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “very disappointed by the United States’ acquiescence to a one-sided, biased resolution.”

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