WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Secretary of State reiterated US support “for a negotiated two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability,” the State Department said in a statement.
The conversation took place ahead of the expected UN Security Council vote on a resolution regarding Israeli settlements drafted by the United Arab Emirates in coordination with the Palestinians.
“The Secretary underscored the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to take steps that restore calm and our strong opposition to unilateral measures that would further escalate tensions.”State Department
“The Secretary underscored the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to take steps that restore calm and our strong opposition to unilateral measures that would further escalate tensions,” the State Department statement reads. “The Secretary and Prime Minister also discussed broader regional challenges, including the threats posed by Iran, and the Secretary underscored our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.”
Earlier, Blinken also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The State Department said that the two discussed efforts to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people and enhance their security and freedom. Blinken also reaffirmed the US commitment “to a negotiated two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability.”
During the State Department briefing on Thursday, principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said that the draft resolution that would call on Israel to immediately and completely cease settlement activities is “unhelpful.”
He added that the administration “doesn’t view the UN as the most practical or useful forum for discussing this issue.”
Patel said that the US “remains focused on supporting the conditions necessary to advance the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.” The administration’s belief, he said, was that this is “the only path to a sustainable end to the conflict, and we continue to engage with all parties on this.”
“The introduction of this resolution is unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations for a two-state solution,” said Patel. “We are aware of the introduction, and we’re coordinating closely with our partners in New York on next steps.”
Does the US intend to veto the UN resolution?
Asked if it meant that the US is ready to veto the resolution, Patel replied that he didn’t want to get ahead of the process. “We are coordinating closely with our partners in New York and are assessing our next steps,” he said. “But when I say that it is unhelpful, we have been clear as it relates to both the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
He continued that “Our view is that the introduction of this resolution was unhelpful in supporting the conditions necessary to advance negotiations of a two-state solution, just like we believe that the news out of Israel on Sunday [that the security cabinet approved nine new settlements] was unhelpful and something that would further incite tensions as well.
“And our viewpoint has always been that both sides should avoid taking steps that puts us further away from a two-state solution and further incites tensions, which these are the kinds of actions that do that.”
Meanwhile, GOP Congressional leaders on Friday urged US President Joe Biden to veto the upcoming UN vote on Israel Settlement activity. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise sent a letter to Biden on Friday, urging him to instruct the US Mission to the UN to vote against the proposed resolution.
“As the UN Security Council once again moves to consider another one-sided, biased, anti-Israel resolution, it is imperative that the United States maintain its position that only direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can yield progress,” the lawmakers wrote. “For this reason, we urge your Administration to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose and veto any anti-Israel action, including resolutions, at the UN Security Council.”
Senate Republicans, too, called on the administration to veto the resolution. “The Biden Administration must use its veto in the UN Security Council to defend our ally Israel, tweeted James Risch, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This resolution will not lead to peace and only furthers anti-Israel actions at the UN,” Risch tweeted.
Senator Bill Hagerty wrote that, “rather than focus on grave threats posed by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, the UN continues its anti-Israel obsession.”
“Biden should stand with Israel and veto this resolution. Do not repeat the shameful Obama-Biden abstention on UNSCR 2334 in December 2016.”
Rather than focus on grave threats posed by China, Russia, Iran & North Korea, the UN continues its anti-Israel obsession. Biden should stand w Israel & veto this resolution. Do not repeat the shameful Obama-Biden abstention on UNSCR 2334 in Dec 2016.https://t.co/TjGgMxtRe8— Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) February 17, 2023