NEW YORK – Israel joined the United States on Wednesday in abstaining to vote on a United Nations General Assembly resolution against the US trade embargo on Cuba, for the first time in 25 years.
The resolution, proposed at a plenary meeting every year since 1991, calls on the US to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba for the past 55 years. It also calls to refrain from enacting laws that do not conform to the UN Charter.
While such resolutions are nonbinding, they can carry political weight.
Due to the improvement in the relationship between the United States and Cuba, Israel and the US have decided to abstain from voting and change their regular voting patterns of voting against it. In past years, Israel was also the only country voting alongside the US.
This year, out of the 193 voting member states, 191 voted in favor of the resolution, no votes were recorded against it and two states, Israel and the US, abstained.
“Israel welcomes the progress achieved in the relations between the US and Cuba and hopes it will lead to a new era in the region,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement.
“The US has no more steadfast and loyal ally than Israel, and we will continue the close cooperation between our two countries at the UN,” he continued.
Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama took steps to ease trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, but only the US Congress can lift the full embargo.
The UN General Assembly applauded when US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power announced prior to the vote that the United States would abstain.
“Abstaining on this resolution does not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government. We do not,” Power told the General Assembly.
“We are profoundly concerned by the serious human rights violations that the Cuban government continues to commit with impunity against its own people.”
The UN resolution adopted on Wednesday takes note of the steps taken by Obama as positive but “still limited in scope.” It urges the United States to repeal or invalidate the embargo on Cuba as soon as possible.
Reuters contributed to this report.