88 senators press Obama to uphold US policy to veto one-sided UN resolutions

The international community should "avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for meaningful progress," according to a bi-partisan letter.

September 20, 2016 04:38
2 minute read.
UN Security Council

US President Barack Obama chairs the UN Security Council summit in New York September 24. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Eighty-eight US senators submitted a bipartisan letter Monday calling for President Barack Obama to uphold US policy that calls for a veto of any one-sided United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a press release of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The letter, initiated by Senators Kristen Gillibrant (D-NY) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) quotes Obama's speech to the General Assembly in 2011, in which he said, "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations."

The international community should "avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for meaningful progress," the letter warns, noting, "Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiating table and make the compromises necessary for peace. The United States remains an indispensable trusted mediator between the parties, and we must continue to insist that neither we nor any other outside substitute for the parties to the conflict."

The letter also emphasizes the senators' hope for a two-state solution, saying, "The only way to resolve the conflicts between the two is through direct negotiations that lead to a sustainable two-state solution with a future sate of Palestine living in peace and security with Israel. This outcome would provide Israel with greater security and strengthen regional stability. We remain optimistic that, under the right circumstances, Israelis and Palestinians can successfully resume productive negotiations toward this goal."

US Senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pushed back on the issue of the two-state solution, however. In a statement released Monday night, he said, “I support the spirit of Sens. Gillibrand’s and Rounds’ letter to President Obama, which is to urge him to oppose any anti-Israel activities at the United Nations Security Council. Unfortunately, the language in the opening paragraph declaring the ‘two-state solution’ as the ‘only’ resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians undermines this well-intentioned effort, and makes it impossible for me to sign. This matter is an internal one for Israel to decide, and it is not the place of the United States – or the United Nations – to impose a solution on a sovereign nation. I join all of our colleagues in praying for peace and security for our great ally Israel.”

The letter comes ahead of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama. The two are scheduled to meet on Wednesday in New York. Both men will be in the city to address the UN General Assembly. Obama is scheduled to address the gathering on Tuesday, and Netanyahu is set to address the assembly on Thursday.

This will be the first meeting between the two leaders since last November, and is expected to be the last face-to-face meeting between the two before Obama leaves office in January.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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