Obama Has Last Chance to Veto ‘Anti-Israel’ Resolution at UN Thursday, But Will He?

By Patrick Goodenough | December 22, 2016 | 4:22am EST
The U.N. Security Council holds a meeting on 'the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question,' on November 23, 2016. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

(CNSNews.com) – Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took to social media to urge the Obama administration to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution slamming Israel in a vote expected to be held on Thursday.

“The U.S. should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday,” Netanyahu tweeted.

For weeks there has been speculation that the outgoing administration, long frustrated in its Mideast peacemaking efforts, may allow an Israel-related resolution to pass. That would happen should the U.S. abstain rather than use its veto to protect its ally, as has long been the norm.

Now that will be put to the test after Egypt, the Arab group’s current representative on the council, on Wednesday circulated a draft resolution demanding that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

For weeks Palestinian officials have been lobbying in New York – and in Washington – for support for the draft, which states that such settlement activities “are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of peace on the basis of the two-state solution.”

The U.S. views Israeli communities in areas claimed by the Palestinians as “illegitimate,” but U.S. administrations have vetoed previous resolutions targeting Israel.

In February 2011 the Obama administration cast its first – and so far, only – veto in the Security Council, to kill a measure similar to the one now under consideration.

As she did so, then-U.S. ambassador Susan Rice reiterated U.S. opposition to settlement activity but said that the resolution “risks hardening the positions of both sides.”

Absent a veto by one of the five permanent members, a Security Council resolution needs nine votes to pass. The 2011 vote was 14-1.

Thursday afternoon’s Security Council meeting takes place under the regular agenda item entitled, “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” which – despite the name and despite other crises across the region – invariably deals almost entirely with the Palestinian issue.

Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon said early Thursday it was “absurd that at a time when thousands are being massacred in Syria, the Security Council is devoting time and energy to convene and discuss condemning the only true democracy in the Middle East.”

He called the draft resolution “the peak of hypocrisy.”

“It will do nothing to promote a diplomatic process and will only reward the Palestinian policy of incitement and terror,” Danon said.

“We expect our greatest ally not to allow this one-sided and anti-Israel resolution to be adopted by the Council.”

Last September 88 U.S. senators urged Obama in a bipartisan letter to hold firm to U.S. policy “and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months.”

“Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict,” they wrote.

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