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US May Abstain if UNSC Votes on Eastern Jerusalem Construction

Another Obama threat? BBC reports a senior US official said US may abstain if UNSC votes against building for Jews in eastern Jerusalem.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/28/2010, 10:16 PM / Last Update: 3/28/2010, 10:21 PM

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The US is considering abstaining if the United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution against Israeli construction in eastern Jerusalem, the BBC reported Sunday.

For decades, Israel has depended on the US to veto UNSC resolutions aimed against it. A change in this US policy could be very perilous for Israel. 

Anti-Israeli resolutions pass regularly in the UN General Assembly, but their meaning is largely declarative. The UNSC, however, has the power to back its resolutions with action.

The possibility of the US abstaining on a vote on eastern Jerusalem came up at talks in Paris last week between a senior US official and Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al Thani. A diplomatic source told the BBC that the official said the US would "seriously consider abstaining" if the issue of Israeli construction for Jews was put to the vote. 

Sheikh Hamad Al Thani was in Paris last week for an economic forum. He asked the US official if Washington would promise not to veto a UN Security Council resolution that criticized Israel's construction for Jews in eastern Jerusalem.

The US official replied that the current feeling in Washington was that the US would "seriously consider abstention". An Egyptian official reportedly confirmed the US position during a closed-doors meeting at the Arab League summit.