Senators pile on pressure to stop Obama abstention on UN Israel resolution

"An abstention is not good enough. The administration must veto this resolution."

By
December 23, 2016 19:47
1 minute read.
US Senate

The US Senate chambers. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON -- Senators from both parties are working the phones and issuing threats in an attempt to pressure the Obama administration at the last minute to reconsider allowing passage of a UN resolution condemning Israel's settlement activity.

Senator Chuck Schumer, set to lead Democrats in the upper chamber next year as Senate Minority Leader, has personally appealed to senior administration officials as recently as this morning, according to his office. And Republican senators are threatening that an affirmative vote would force them to consider severe cuts in US aid to the international body.

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"Whatever one’s views are on settlements, anyone who cares about the future of Israel and peace in the region knows that the UN, with its one sidedness, is exactly the wrong forum to bring about peace," Schumer said. "An abstention is not good enough. The administration must veto this resolution."

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a progressive Democrat, also called on Obama to veto the "one-sided" resolution.

The resolution, which tracks with longstanding State Department policy in opposition to settlement activity, was originally pioneered by the Egyptian government. Cairo pulled the resolution on Thursday, however, reportedly succumbing to pressure from Israel and the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Now that same text is being brought to a vote by New Zealand. The vote is scheduled for 2:00 pm EST.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a vocal critic of the Obama administration, said the resolution was an "outrage" and threatened any nation supporting it with a cut in its US financial aid.

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"“As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I oversee the United States assistance to the United Nations," Graham said. "The United States is currently responsible for approximately 22 percent of the United Nations total budget."

“If the United Nations moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution, I will work to form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations," he added.

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and James Lankford of Oklahoma, also a Republican serving on the Senate subcommittee on appropriations, joined Graham's call.

"UN funding should be up for discussion if the anti-Israel resolution is approved," Lankford said.

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