House Votes to Condemn UN for Resolution on Israeli Settlements

NY: With US Abstention, UN Security Council passes Resolution condemning Israeli settlements
Delegates raise their hands in affirmation during a vote by the United Nations Security Council on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements at UN Headquarters in New York / AP
January 5, 2017

The House of Representatives passed a resolution on Thursday repudiating both the United Nations Security Council for voting to condemn Israel over its settlement activity and the Obama administration for allowing the measure to pass.

The House resolution had bipartisan support, with 342 members voting in favor of it. Eighty lawmakers did not back the measure, 76 of whom were Democrats, and four only voted "present." A majority of Democrats, 109, voted for the resolution, and all but four Republicans supported it.

The motion, House Resolution 11, was introduced by Reps. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chairman and ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively.

The measure was a response to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed the international body last month and condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United States could have prevented its passage by utilizing its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council, but instead abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to pass unanimously. The Obama administration's abstention broke with decades of U.S. policy to defend the Jewish state at the U.N. from what critics have called anti-Israel measures.

"This government, our government, abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most," House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said on the House floor. "These types of one-sided efforts are designed to isolate and delegitimize Israel. They do not advance peace. They make it more elusive."

Israel came out strongly against the U.N.'s move, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry after the resolution passed. President-elect Donald Trump also castigated the Obama administration for its abstention.

"I think allowing governments to bully Israel in the U.N. is a mistake, no matter who's in power," said Engel, according to the Hill.

The House motion passed Thursday described the U.N. resolution as a "one-sided" measure unfair to Israel that will encourage the Palestinian leadership to avoid direct negotiations with the Jewish state.

"The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 undermined the longstanding position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement," the House resolution states.

It also says that the U.N. vote "undermines the prospect of Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct negotiations" and "contributes to the politically motivated acts of boycott, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel and represents a concerted effort to extract concessions from Israel outside of direct negotiations."

President-elect Trump has promised to improve the U.S.-Israel relationship when he takes office on Jan. 20. After the U.N. vote, he expressed his displeasure via Twitter.