Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama against a backdrop of Israeli flags and American flags.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Congressmen from both parties are issuing support for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians and urging the Obama administration to refrain from taking action at the United Nations over the decades-old conflict.
A “sense of” resolution adopted by the House of Representatives on Tuesday night put a majority of members on record in favor of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that lead “to a sustainable two-state solution,” and against efforts at the UN Security Council that would “impose a solution” on the parties.
The resolution, which is a nonbinding act that allows the chamber to express its majority opinion, was introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-California) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-New York).
It comes at a time when US President Barack Obama is weighing whether to join a French effort at the council that would outline parameters for an ultimate peace agreement. Israel opposes such a tactic as destructive to the pursuit of peace.
It also comes amid a shift in the GOP over whether to continue explicitly endorsing a two-state solution.
Obama urges Israel end occupation and Palestinians accept Israel
Under the leadership of Donald Trump, who at the time was the party’s presidential nominee, Republicans in July removed any mention of such a policy goal from their party platform.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Rep.Trent Franks (R-Arizona), co-chairman of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, said he feared that Obama would take steps at the UN – “through action or inaction” – perhaps allowing a resolution at the Security Council to pass with a US abstention.
“It has been the policy of the United States since the first Bush administration to veto any third-party resolutions which impose action on Israel relating to their peace talks with the Palestinians,” Franks said. “If the UN passes a binding resolution on the peace process, he [Obama] should veto it.
If the Security Council passes sanctions against Israeli settlements, he should veto it. If the UN votes to recognize Palestinian statehood, he should lobby against the vote and vote against it.”
Joining him to express similar concerns was Rep.Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado).
“Such a move would give credence to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which has been actively legislated against by numerous states, and would set the groundwork for eventual borders of a Palestinian state unilaterally, in contradiction to the Oslo Accords and every other agreement made,” Lamborn lamented. “It would have negative repercussions for US businesses and would be a boon to the very movement that has as its endgame the destruction of Israel. It would, in effect, change longstanding American foreign policy in the Middle East with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The House resolution passed unanimously.