WASHINGTON — A bipartisan coalition of US senators introduced a measure Wednesday that seeks to repeal the United Nations Security Council resolution passed last month that labels Israeli settlements illegal and calls for a complete halt to all construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Obama administration refused to veto the resolution, allowing it to pass in a move that infuriated Israel.
Co-sponsored by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R), the Senate resolution condemns the UN motion as “anti-Israel,” calling for it to be “repealed or fundamentally altered.”
The proposal also calls for the US to reject efforts made by outside parties to impose a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it demands the US ensure no action is taken at the upcoming Paris peace conference, set for January 15.
Expressing support for a two-state outcome, the text declared that any final-status resolution to the conflict needs to settled through talks between the parties.
The United Nations was not an appropriate venue for making progress on the issue, said Senate Minority Leader Schumer, one of the most prominent Jewish members of Congress and a fierce Israel supporter.
“Since the days of ‘Zionism is racism,’ the UN has been a fervently anti-Israel body and, unfortunately, that bias has never diminished,” he said in a statement. “Knowing this, past administrations — both Democrat and Republican — have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution.”
“Unfortunately, by abstaining on United Nations Resolution 2334, this administration has not followed in that path.” he added. “This Senate resolution reaffirms that peace must come through direct negotiations in order to achieve a sustainable two-state solution.”
Schumer’s Republican colleague Rubio echoed a similar sentiment.
“Efforts to delegitimize Israel have been underway a long time at the United Nations and have now sadly been aided by the outgoing administration,” he said. “But the time has come to turn back the tide and renew America’s commitment to the Jewish state.”
UNSC Resolution 2443 was passed by a vote of 14-0 following a US abstention on December 23, a decision that effectively allowed the motion through. The text calls for an end to all building in areas Israel gained after the 1967 Six Day War, territory that includes the Old City, with the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
It also calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”
Israel fears such language will lead to an uptick in boycott and sanctions efforts, and Israeli officials have warned it will provide a “tailwind for terror.”
Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced criticism that the resolution impedes an already stalled peace process.
The resolution, he said, is “a one-sided text that makes direct negotiations for a two-state solution more challenging.”
“Going forward,” he added, “Congress will take action against efforts at the UN, or beyond, that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel.”
Nineteen other senators have already signed on to support the resolution, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), Arizona John McCain (R), Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D), Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D), Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R), Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R), Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R).
A House vote on a similar resolution is due for a vote on Thursday and is expected to pass.
Iowa Rep. Steve King offered a separate amendment Wednesday that would remove all references to a two-state solution.
King, originally a Ted Cruz backer in the presidential election until he put his name behind Trump, has long been an opponent of the two-state framework endorsed by multiple US presidents.
He was a vocal supporter of the GOP removing that position from its party platform this summer. In July, he told The Times of Israel: “A two-state solution would only be a new place to build up more arms to fire more rockets into Israel proper. So I don’t think they should concede the land Israelis have fought over.”
King’s amendment is unlikely to be embraced by the Democratic members backing the resolution who argue the two-state solution is the only solution to the conflict.