US house votes to condemn UN’s Israel resolution

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (C), R-Wisconsin, swears in the newly elected members of the House of Representatives during the opening of the 115th US Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 3, 2017. (AFP)

The US House of Representatives voted Thursday to condemn a UN resolution reprimanding Israel over its settlement activity, blasting last month’s move by the international body as “an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace.” The congressional measure passed 342 to 80, with broad bipartisan support. It noted in particular that the US administration’s refusal to veto the controversial Security Council measure “undermined” Washington’s decades-long position of opposing anti-Israel action at the United Nations.

Incensed US lawmakers – and President-elect Donald Trump – have assailed Barack Obama’s outgoing administration for abstaining in the December 23 vote instead of vetoing the UN resolution, essentially clearing the way for its passage. “I am stunned at what happened last month. This government – our government – abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the chamber shortly before the House vote. “It is time to repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the UN,” he added. “It’s time to rebuild our partnership” with the Jewish state.

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White House aides have said that while Obama is a firm supporter of Israel, he felt that after eight years he had simply run out of ways to convince Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel building on Palestinian land is sabotaging hopes for peace. The House measure, which is non-binding, calls for the UN resolution “to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that... it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel” and allows all final status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved through direct bilateral negotiation.

It also demands that the United States ensures that no action be taken at the Paris Conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict scheduled for January 15, that would impose an agreement on the two sides. The French-organized talks, to be attended by around 70 countries – but not by Israeli or Palestinian representatives – are being held to reiterate international support for a two-state solution to the conflict. “It’s subterfuge. This is about kicking a president on the way out, one more time,” fumed House Democrat Gerry Connolly, who voted no on the resolution.

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