WASHINGTON — Eighty-eight member of the Senate saw President Obama off to the United Nations with a demand that the White House not shaft Israel by letting resolutions against the Jewish state slide through the General Assembly.
The bipartisan letter to President Obama was led by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and notes that “under the right circumstances, Israelis and Palestinians can successfully resume productive negotiations” toward the goal of “a future state of Palestine living in peace and security with Israel.”
“At this delicate stage the international community should both provide hope to the parties and avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for meaningful progress,” the letter continues. “Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations (UN) risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiating table and make the compromises necessary for peace. The United States remains an indispensable trusted mediator between the parties, and we must continue to insist that neither we nor any other outsider substitute for the parties to the conflict.”
“Your administration has consistently upheld the longstanding U.S. policy of opposing – and if necessary vetoing – one-sided UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.”
The senators noted that former UN Ambassador Susan Rice, when vetoing such a resolution in February 2011, said, “It is the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ conflict, and even the best-intentioned outsiders cannot resolve it for them.”
The Palestinian Authority has introduced various resolutions to force a settlement, including an April effort at the UN to declare West Bank settlements illegal.
“We urge you to continue longstanding U.S. policy and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months,” the senators added. “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.”
In April, 394 lawmakers in the House sent Obama a letter expressing similar sentiments about the need to block anti-Israel resolutions.
Obama is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. Secretary of State John Kerry met Monday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss “regional challenges and constructive ideas for the way forward to support our shared goal of a two-state solution.”
Before leaving for New York today, Netanyahu said he plans to thank Obama “for the great and important security assistance to the state of Israel over the coming decade.”
In his General Assembly speech, the prime minister said, “I will present Israel’s case, Israel’s truth, Israel’s justice and also Israel’s heroism – the heroism of our soldiers, our police officers and our citizens, who are waging an uncompromising struggle against brutal terrorism.”
“I expect from the international community a uniform standard in the war on terrorism,” Netanyahu added. “Today the entire international community says that there is a need to wage a determined and uncompromising fight against terrorism. And indeed, they must also support the determined and uncompromising fight against terrorism, and this moral clarity is necessary to both fight against – and defeat – terrorism.”