The top Republican and Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee have jointly asked UN Ambassador Samantha Power to not throw Israel under the bus.
The Obama administration — everyone from anonymous officials to spokesmen to President Obama himself — have said since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory that the U.S. will “re-evaluate” how it approaches two-state solution efforts. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fear this could include not having Israel’s back at the United Nations when the Palestinian Authority tries to declare a state.
Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) told Power this week that they have “deep and abiding” support for U.S. efforts in the Mideast peace process “with the understanding that any lasting solution will be decided by the parties themselves.”
“We are concerned by reports that the Administration is ‘re-evaluating’ United States policy toward Israel. In the wake of comments that Prime Minister Netanyahu made during Israel’s election last week—that he has now contextualized—the Administration appears to be considering new steps at the United Nations that could depart from our nation’s historic and principled defense of Israel at the United Nations against biased and one-sided resolutions,” they wrote.
Netanayhu has clarified that a two-state solution cannot happen while Hamas is in a unity pact with Fatah, along with other longstanding conditions about the recognition and security of Israel. This week, though, Obama said “even if you accept it, I think the corrective of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s in subsequent days, there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state, even if there were a whole range of conditions and security requirements that might be phased in over a long period of time, which was always the presumption.”
“And we can’t continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen, at least in the next several years,” Obama said. “That is something that we have to — for the sake of our own credibility, I think we have to be able to be honest about that.”
Engel and Royce noted that “for decades, the U.S. has used its U.N. Security Council veto to protect Israel from undue pressure at the world body, which has historically exhibited selective and unjustified bias against Israel.”
“We join in the Administration’s efforts to encourage the parties to return to the negotiating table and take steps to assure the other side of their commitment to a more peaceful and secure future. However, it is difficult to see how such a shift in U.S. policy at the United Nations would bring the parties closer to peace,” they continued. “Both Republican and Democratic Administrations have recognized that efforts to internationalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not a substitute for direct negotiations between the parties, and in fact, can undermine these negotiations.”
“Given the serious threats facing both the United States and Israel, cooperation is needed now more than ever. We continue to support direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward a two-state solution and will oppose any effort to turn to the Security Council for imposing the terms of this process. Only a solution negotiated directly between the Israelis and Palestinians can result in a lasting peace.”
Royce and Engel ask Power for her assurance “that the United States will veto resolutions at the United Nations that are biased and one-sided against Israel.”