U.S. Senators Urge Obama to Veto Any 'One-sided' UN Resolution on Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Fearing post-election UN peace push by Obama, 88 Democratic and Republican senators tell president even well intentioned initiatives could make it more difficult to resolve conflict.

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President Barack Obama, center, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, left, and United States United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power. Sept. 19, 2016.
President Barack Obama, center, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, left, and United States United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power. Sept. 19, 2016. Credit: Carolyn Kaster, AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
New York

On the eve of Barack Obama's address to the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, and a day before his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 88 Republican and Democratic senators sent a letter to the U.S. president calling on him to veto any "one-sided" resolution brought before the UN Security Council during the remainder of his term.

The letter was initiated and sponsored by the pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC. The two senators leading the initiative were Michael Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, and New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand, a Democrat.

AIPAC's effort, apparently spurred by the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem and Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, came amid fears that Obama will try and push a UNSC resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the elections in November and before he leaves office on January 20.

The letter is vague on details and falls short of demanding Obama not lead an American initiative in the Security Council himself. The letter does, however, call on Obama to prevent similar initiatives by nations supportive of the Palestinians cause or that try to ignore Israel's position and embrace only the Palestinian's agenda.

"We urge you to continue longstanding U.S. policy and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months. Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict."

The senators also wrote the president that they are disappointed in the stalemate in the peace process, but stressed that a resolution could only be reached through direct dialogue between the sides. The lawmakers stressed that a two-state solution agreement that would see that establishment of a Palestinian state will help make Israel secure, and noted they were "optimistic that, under the right circumstances, Israelis and Palestinians can successfully resume production negotiations."

"At this delicate stage the international community should both provide hope to the parties and avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for a meaningful progress," the senators wrote. "Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiation table and make the compromises necessary for peace."

AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann said that "All AIPAC decisions and policy are solely made by our staff and Board of Directors and are absolutely not 'spurred' or directed by any outside entity whatsoever."