U.K. May Support UN Vote Against Settlements; J Street Implores Obama Not to Veto Resolution

The United Kingdom would consider supporting a UN Security Council condemnation of Israeli settlements, a Foreign Office official told the Palestinian Ma'an news agency yesterday, as several left-leaning U.S. groups urged Washington not to veto such a resolution.

Arab nations on Wednesday submitted a draft resolution to the Security Council condemning settlements in the West Bank, with diplomats saying a vote on it is not expected any time soon because of a likely U.S. veto.

U.S. President Barack Obama AP

The point of the resolution, diplomats say, is to highlight Washington's isolation on the Security Council; show the Palestinian population that the Palestinian Authority is taking action; and to pressure Israel and the United States on the settlement issue.

Speaking with reporters during a visit to Jordan yesterday, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said the U.K. would "consider any draft resolution," carefully adding that "anything that is a hurdle, or a barrier to be cleared, is not particularly helpful. We've said that in relation to the settlements."

Also referring to the possible UN condemnation of Israel's settlement activities, dovish U.S. advocacy group J Street said that "as a pro-Israel organization and as Americans, we advocate for what we believe to be in the long-term interests of the State of Israel and of the United States."

"Ongoing settlement expansion runs counter to the interests of both countries and against commitments Israel itself has made," a J Street statement said.

It added that the draft resolution "introduced in the United Nations Security Council this week condemns Israel's ongoing settlement activity and calls on both parties to continue negotiating final-status issues in an effort to resolve the conflict in the short term," adding that these were "sentiments that we share, and that we believe a majority of Jewish Americans and friends of Israel share."

It said: "While we hope never to see the State of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations, we cannot support a U.S. veto of a resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy."

Also commenting on the possible UN condemnation of settlement activities, Americans for Peace Now urged the administration of President Barack Obama to avoid vetoing the resolution, saying it was "indefensible that the Netanyahu government, heedless of the damage settlement activity does to Israel's own interests and indifferent to the Obama administration's peace efforts, has not only refused to halt settlement activity but has opened the floodgates, including in the most sensitive areas of East Jerusalem. In this context, the move by the United Nations Security Council to censure Israel's settlement activity should surprise no one."

The group added: "Given this context and content, APN calls on the Obama administration to not veto this resolution in its current form." It said: "Vetoing this resolution would conflict with four decades of U.S. policy. It would contribute to the dangerously naive view that Israeli settlement policies do no lasting harm to Israel."

APN said an American veto "would send a message to the world that the U.S. is not only acquiescing to Israel's actions, but is implicitly supporting them."