Senator threatens to cut UN funding if anti-settlement motion passes

Senator threatens to cut UN funding if anti-settlement motion passes

Lindsey Graham says he will also seek financial retribution against member states who back resolution at Security Council

File: US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a press conference in Jerusalem, May 27, 2015 (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
File: US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a press conference in Jerusalem, May 27, 2015 (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned Friday evening that Washington could cut off funding to the United Nations — as well as to certain member states — if the Security Council passes a resolution against Israeli settlements Friday evening.

“If the United Nations moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution, I will work to form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations,” Graham said in a statement.

The resolution cannot pass if Washington exercises its veto power at the council, though Israel and American officials exchanged blows in the media Friday evening amid reports that the Obama administration did not plan to do so.

Earlier Israel’s envoy to the UN Danny Danon urged Washington to veto any such motion at the Security Council.

“This is an anti-Israeli resolution spearheaded by Palestinians, the entire purpose of which is to hurt Israel,” Danon said in a statement after news broke that the resolution was likely to come to a vote despite sponsor Egypt pulling its support. “We call on the US to stand by us and expect our greatest ally to stick to its long-standing position and to veto the decision.

“We say again to the members of the Security Council: No solution will be advanced by UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations,” he added.

Four members of the Security Council — New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela — said they would bring the original Egyptian draft resolution to a vote Friday after Cairo, under pressure from US President-elect Donald Trump, withdrew the measure.

“The key goal that we have here is to preserve and reaffirm the two-state solution,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters. “The text that we have does not exclusively focus on settlements. It also condemns the violence and terrorism. It also calls to prevent all incitement from the Palestinian side so this is a balanced text.”

Diplomats said the same draft resolution would be submitted to a vote, at the request of the four countries.

The draft resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution” that would see an independent Palestine co-exist alongside Israel.

The four member states had warned earlier that they would push ahead with the resolution if Cairo stood by its decision to delay.

“In the event that Egypt decides that it cannot proceed to call for vote on 23 December or does not provide a response by the deadline, those delegations reserve the right to table the draft … and proceed to put it to vote ASAP,” wrote New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal in a note they presented to Egyptian officials, according to Reuters.

Egypt had said earlier its president received a call from Trump in which they both agreed to give the incoming US administration a chance to try and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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