For First Time, Israel Abstains in UN Vote on Lifting Cuba Embargo

Israel's decision to abstain made in conjunction with U.S., which also abstained for the first time amid warming relations between Washington and Havana.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla addresses the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 22, 2016.
Eduardo Munoz, Reuters

Israel for the first time abstained in a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution calling on the United States to remove its 55-year-old embargo on Cuba. Previously it had always voted against similar resolutions on Cuba that have come before the General Assembly during the past 25 years.

Israel’s decision to abstain was made in conjunction with the United States, which also abstained for the first time given the warming relations between Washington and Havana. Israel and the United States were always the only two countries to vote against these resolutions, which are not binding. The resolution calls for the United States to avoid measures that flout UN conventions, particularly the sanctions it imposes on Cuba.

Last year, even though the United States and Cuba had already restored diplomatic relations, both the Israelis and the Americans voted against the resolution. 

“Israel welcomes the progress in relations between the United States and Cuba and hopes this progress will lead to a new era in the region,” said Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. “The United States has no greater reliable and loyal ally than the State of Israel, and we will continue our close cooperation in the UN.”