WASHINGTON – Amid condemnations in the US of the Obama Administration’s decision to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement activity, President-elect Donald Trump issued a curt warning Friday afternoon that his administration could take an adversarial approach to the international body.
“As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th,” the president-elect tweeted shortly after the Security Council passed the resolution by a vote of 14-0.
Even before US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power formally announced that the US would abstain rather than vetoing the resolution, Senator Lindsey Graham had already warned that the Senate would consider defunding the international body when it reconvenes in 2017.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan described the US abstention as “absolutely shameful.”
“Today’s vote is a blow to peace that sets a dangerous precedent for further diplomatic efforts to isolate and demonize Israel,” Ryan continued. “Our unified Republican government will work to reverse the damage done by this administration, and rebuild our alliance with Israel.”
Condemning the Obama administration’s decision to allow the resolution to be adopted by the Security Council, the Republican Jewish Coalition warned that “the actions of the Obama Administration will forever be remembered as a dark, shameful moment for our country.”
“Instead of pressuring the Palestinians to be a partner for peace, President Obama chose to break with long standing diplomatic practices and allowed the one-sided, anti-Israel United Nations to be used as a tool to bludgeon Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East,” the organization’s director Matt Brooks complained.
Brooks applauded “the efforts of Republican Senators, led by Senator Graham, to strip funding to the United Nations, which has time and again showed their anti-Israel bias.”
In 2011, Congress voted to defund the UN organization UNESCO after it voted to recognize Palestine, a decision that Congress criticized as an attempt by the UN body to impose a unilateral solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Democrats who had called on Obama to veto the resolution expressed their disappointment Friday afternoon, as did pro-Israel groups.
Rep. Ted Deutch did not directly criticize the administration, instead bemoaning that “this resolution passed by the UN Security Council does not take us closer to peace between Israel and the Palestinians nor does it make two states for two peoples more likely.”
“That’s why I am disappointed that the United States did not veto it today,” he concluded.
Rep. Nita Lowey described the abstention as a “stain on the United States’ long and consistent record of defending Israel against one-sided UN Security Council resolutions,” adding that she was “profoundly disappointed.”
“Only through direct negotiations can the Israelis and Palestinians resolve their complicated differences,” she continued. “Today’s resolution will not further the cause of peace. In fact it will only harden both sides and make direct negotiations all the more difficult to ever resume. I will redouble my efforts to defend Israel in international bodies and bring the parties back to the table.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said it was “extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding that the Administration has failed to veto this resolution. Whatever one’s views are on settlements, the UN is the wrong forum to settle these issues. The UN has been a fervently anti-Israel body since the days of ‘Zionism is racism’ and, unfortunately, that fervor has never diminished. Knowing this, past Administrations – both Democrat and Republican – have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution. Unfortunately, this Administration has not followed in that path and its actions will move us further from peace in the Middle East.”
While most Democrats hesitated to call out the Obama administration for its decision to abstain rather than veto the resolution, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was clear in assigning blame. In a statement issued quickly after the vote, AIPAC wrote that it was “deeply disturbed by the failure of the Obama Administration to exercise its veto to prevent a destructive, one-sided, anti-Israel resolution from being enacted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In the past, this administration and past administrations have rejected this type of biased resolution since it undermines prospects for peace.”
“It is particularly regrettable, in his last month in office, that the president has taken an action at odds with the bipartisan consensus in Congress and America’s long history of standing with Israel at the United Nations,” the organization, which had sent out an action call to its members shortly before the vote, continued. “AIPAC expresses its appreciation to President-elect Trump and the many Democratic and Republican Members of Congress who urged a veto of this resolution.”