Jewish groups 'disappointed' with US vote on settlements

ADL, AJC, JFNA condemn US failure to use its veto power at UNSC.

December 24, 2016 00:58
4 minute read.
The United Nations Security Council

The United Nations Security Council . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Key US Jewish organizations swiftly spoke out against their country's decision to abstain on a UN Security Council resolution adopted Friday, which condemns Israeli settlement activity as illegal.

Both the AJC and the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) said they were "deeply disappointed" by the move which allowed the passing of a resolution which they slammed as being anti-Israel and biased.

“The Administration’s decision, for the first time in eight years, not to block an anti-Israel measure at the UN Security Council is profoundly disturbing,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “It only encourages diplomatic end-runs and diversionary tactics, which hinder rather than advance the prospects for peace.”

“Moreover, this measure repeats the Palestinian falsehood that Israeli settlements constitute the core of the conflict,” said Harris. “Let’s be clear: The chief obstacle to achieving peace is, and long has been, the steadfast refusal of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and negotiate in earnest a comprehensive agreement. Security Council members that supported the resolution are not helping the cause of peace by their failure to hold the Palestinians accountable for their chronic short-sightedness and inaction.”

“Encouraging the misguided Palestinian strategy of doing everything possible to avoid Israel, while accumulating hostile statements against Israel at the UN and other international organizations, has been counterproductive to achieving a sustainable peace that will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians,” Harris added. “Isn’t it high time to face reality? Enduring peace accords with Egypt and Jordan came about because of direct talks with Israel. The same could be true with the Palestinians, if only they finally learned the lessons of those talks.”

“It is tragic that the Administration chose to mar its legacy of support for the Jewish State and set back the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace,” said the JFNA.

Both the JFNA and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) recalled UN Ambassador Samantha Power's statement in 2014, when the US vetoed and voted against a similar resolution, that “peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at the negotiating table.”

"Today, on the eve of a new US administration, is not the time to change the course of a consistent US policy in the UN Security Council," the JCRC said in a statement. "It is a time to reiterate and emphasize the approach that has preserved the possibility for the parties themselves to directly tackle the issues that will lead to a comprehensive agreement ending the conflict."

The Anti-Defamation League too said it was "outraged" by the US decision not use its veto power, citing similar concerns that the "biased and unconstructive” resolution would further complicate peace efforts.

"We know that Israeli settlement activity is of concern to the US and many members of the international community and are pleased that Ambassador Samantha Power recognized the centrality of other issues obstructing the peace process, including Palestinian incitement and a complete unwillingness to engage in bilateral negotiations. However, we are incredibly disappointed that the US still chose not to exercise its veto power and stop this resolution at the Security Council," said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Recalling multiple statements made by the Obama Administration in the past that a solution to the conflict cannot be imposed on the parties but must be achieved by direct negotiation between the parties, Greenblatt found it "deeply troubling that this biased resolution appears to be the final word of the Administration on this issue."

The left-wing Jewish advocacy group J Street, however, viewed the vote in a different light. It welcomed the Obama administration's decision to abstain, as a reaffirmation of the need for a two-state solution and a "halt to actions by both sides that serve to undermine the prospects for peace."

In contrast with the aforementioned groups, J Street said the resolution was consistent with longstanding bipartisan US policy on the issue and "its clear opposition to irresponsible and damaging actions, including Palestinian incitement and terror and Israeli settlement expansion and home demolitions."

Following the adoption of the resolution, J Street set up a page on its website, inviting supporters to sign a thank you letter to US President Barack Obama for allowing the Security Council to pass the resolution, "reaffirming the international community's support for the two-state solution and strong concern for the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank."

While acknowledging the "loud criticism from the usual suspects" about the US abstention, the letter to the president states that "most supporters of Israel recognize the dangers posed by unbridled settlement expansion. As one of them, I thank you for your leadership on this issue and applaud the passage of this resolution on the eve of a new administration."

The American Jewish Congress, meanwhile, expressed its thanks to President-elect Donald Trump, for having tried to stop the Obama Administration from abstaining. "We are greatly appreciative to President-Elect Donald Trump for his efforts to fight for Israel on this critical issue," said AJCongress President Jack Rosen.

“Obama’s Israel legacy will now be viewed as anti-Israel by a majority of Americans, and historians won't have to argue over it, as his feckless Iran Nuclear Deal and troubled relationship with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu have already given justified reasons for many that he was not a supporter of Israel," said Rosen. "Accordingly, the American Jewish Congress now adopts this view with the adoption of today’s resolution."

“As we face challenging times, with soon to celebrate the holiday of lights - Hanukka, we remind ourselves that despite today’s outcome we must continue to be a light upon the nation," he added. "Moving forward, we dedicate and commit ourselves to rekindling the U.-Israel relationship and working with the next administration on repairing the damage done today."

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