Sixteen U.S. senators have urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to order a veto of a United Nations resolution condemning Jewish development in United Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
The motion was tabled Tuesday, the same day the Palestinian Authority raised its flag over its mission in Washington for the first time. No vote is expected for at least several days, while Arab and Israeli interests lobby the Obama administration. The U.S. government has not hinted whether it will exercise its veto privilege in the U.N. Security Council.
The senators' letter, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, reminded Secretary Clinton that the resolution, drafted by the Palestinian Authority, is an attempt to unilaterally dictate terms to Israel and avoid direct negotiations, which the United States has unsuccessfully tried to arrange.
“We believe such a move hurts the prospects for a peace agreement and is not in the interest of the United States," the letter stated. "A resolution of this nature would work against our country’s consistent position, which has been that this and other issues linked to the Middle East peace process can only be resolved by the two parties negotiating directly with each other.
“Attempts to use a venue such as the United Nations, which you know has a long history of hostility toward Israel, to deal with just one issue in the negotiations, will not move the two sides closer to a two-state solution, but rather damage the fragile trust between them.”
The United States previously has vetoed almost all anti-Israeli resolutions, but U.S. President Barack Obama’s vocal opposition to a Jewish presence in United Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is identical with the demands of the Arab world.
The PA is counting on all of the other 14 members of the Security Council to vote for the resolution or abstain, without exercising a veto. PA leaders have rejected repeated requests by the Obama administration not to table the resolution, which places the United States in a tight diplomatic corner.
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley rebuffed repeated attempts by reporters on Tuesday to state the American position.
“We’ve made that clear in our discussions with the Palestinians and others,” Crowley said. We do not think that New York or the U.N. Security Council is the right forum for this issue, and we’ll continue to make that case…. I’m not going to speculate on what happens from this point forward."
Journalists covering the State Department pointed out that the resolution “merely restates what has been U.S. policy for some time, that – basically, it criticizes settlement activity. Why are you opposed to the U.N. adopting a resolution that isn’t – that supports existing U.S. policy?”
Crowley, as usual, did not flinch and stuck to being noncommittal. “We believe that the best path forward is through the ongoing effort that gets the parties into direct negotiations, resolves the issues through a framework agreement, and ends the conflict once and for all. We do not think that the U.N. Security Council is the best place to address these issues,” he said.
He conceded that the “peace process” is not succeeding but maintained that the proposed resolution is not a "productive step.”