United States Capitol building in Washington, DC..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON -- Nearly a dozen Democratic senators joined their Republican counterparts on Wednesday to condemn the United Nations for its "anti-Israel efforts," specifically action last month in the Security Council condemning Israeli settlement activity facilitated by the Obama administration.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who unsuccessfully lobbied the White House to veto the UN move, endorsed the Senate resolution, which would repudiate the UN in a non-binding manner. Joining him is Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Chris Coons of Delaware, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Bill Nelson of Florida and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
Their disapproval marks a notable rebuke of the Obama administration by fellow Democrats just weeks before the 44th president is scheduled to leave office.
“Since the days of 'Zionism is racism,' the UN has been a fervently anti-Israel body and, unfortunately, that bias has never diminished. Knowing this, past administrations– both Democrat and Republican– have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution," Schumer said in a statement. "Unfortunately, by abstaining on United Nations Resolutions 2334, this administration has not followed in that path. This Senate resolution reaffirms that peace must come through direct negotiations in order to achieve a sustainable two-state solution."
US abstains from UN vote to end Israeli settlement building
Cardin introduced the legislation with Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, which is expected to receive unanimous GOP support.
A complementary resolution in the House of Representatives is also scheduled for a vote, but one member, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, has moved to strike from its text reference to US support for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
Democrats in both chambers roundly support a two-state solution, and it is unclear how such a move will affect the bipartisan nature of the current text.
The Obama administration said it felt compelled to abstain from the UN resolution vote, which condemned Israel's settlement enterprise as illegal, because of its longstanding belief that Israeli construction policy in the West Bank is creating an "irreversible one-state reality."
Before King's motion, Rep. Steny Hoyer, who is the Democratic whip in the House, announced his support for the resolution.
"Allowing such a one-sided resolution to pass at this moment sent the wrong signal to our ally Israel, to Israel's enemies, and to the world," Hoyer said. "I will be supporting the bipartisan House Resolution expressing opposition to the December 23 abstention vote for this reason and because I believe Congress must continue to stand in solidarity with Israel as it faces an unprecedented onslaught of terror and delegitimization."