WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives passed a resolution on Thursday condemning the UN Security Council for censuring Israel over its settlement enterprise, and calling on the Obama administration– which allowed the UN move to pass– to veto any similar actions in the international chamber.
The resolution acknowledges America's longstanding and bipartisan support for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, but reminds the government of its historic policy opposed to "one-sided" UN resolutions that seek to impose parameters for such a solution onto the parties.
It is this policy, the resolution asserts, that the Obama administration undermined with its latest action at the UN, which condemned Israel over its construction in the West Bank and "east Jerusalem." The White House abstained from the vote, choosing not to utilize its permanent veto power.
The status of East Jerusalem remains a sticking point between Israelis and Palestinians, and the US has for years considered it a topic not for UN deliberations but for final-status, direct negotiations.
"The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 undermined the longstanding position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement," the resolution asserts, referring to US President Barack Obama's decision to abstain from the vote.
It "undermines the prospect of Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct negotiations," the resolution reads, and "contributes to the politically motivated acts of boycott, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel and represents a concerted effort to extract concessions from Israel outside of direct negotiations."
During debate on the floor over the resolution, proposed by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-California) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-New York), some Democrats protested the decision by Republican leadership to rush their version to a vote. Several had drafts of their own which would have highlighted America's historic opposition to Israeli settlement activity.
"We are condemning what happened because we think its unfair and unjust," said Engel, repudiating the UN move. "The language on Jerusalem is not new, but it remains deeply offensive to Jews."
On the other side of the aisle, some GOP members criticized the resolution for its reference to a two-state solution.
"The two-state solution has run its course," said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a close ally of the incoming Trump administration.
The resolution adds that the US government "should oppose and veto future United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel." The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as well as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, encouraged members to support the measure.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called on the entire House to support the resolution.
"I am stunned– I am stunned at what happened last month," Ryan said in a statement on the floor. "This government, our government, abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most."
The Israeli government fears that Obama, in his last days in office, will allow for similar measures to pass the Security Council– including a resolution codifying international parameters for a two-state solution,
which will soon be under consideration at a major conference in Paris. One top foreign policy adviser to the president, Ben Rhodes, has said the administration planned to veto any such resolution.
The House effort, said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), "sends a warning to the nations that will gather in Paris next week to discuss the peace process that there will be repercussions if there is a move to introduce a parameters resolution."
The Senate is expected to vote on a similar resolution in the coming days. Their companion measure has already received eleven Democratic cosponsors, and is expected to pass with unanimous Republican support.