House condemns U.N. Israel vote

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The House of Representatives voted Thursday to condemn a United Nations Security Council resolution that was critical of Israeli settlement building. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The House of Representatives on Thursday repudiated a United Nations Security Council Resolution that declared Israel’s settlement activity illegal and that it is diminishing the chances for a two-state solution.

By a vote of 342-80, the House passed Resolution 11, which condemned last month’s 14-0 vote in the Security Council. The United States abstained on the vote, which allowed it to pass. The U.S. abstention angered much of the organized Jewish community, which viewed the U.N. vote as anti-Israel.

The House resolution, sponsored by Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), said the U.N.’s historically “one-sided and anti-Israel” resolutions have helped fuel the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. It said that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians should come through direct negotiations and not by way of the world body.

Maryland’s entire delegation, including newly elected Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin, voted for the resolution. But among Northern Virginia’s representatives, only Republican Barbara Comstock voted yes; Democrats Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer voting no.

In a statement, Beyer said that the resolution was “yet another step towards altering longstanding U.S. policy on Israeli settlements, and as such is another step away from the already imperiled two-state solution.”

“An expansionary settlement policy is an impediment to peace,” Beyer’s statement continued. “We must have the courage and foresight to tell our friends when they are mistaken. Instead of confronting this reality, H. Res. 11 mischaracterizes the admittedly imperfect U.N. resolution which Ambassador [Samantha] Power wisely abstained from voting on.”

Maryland Democratic Rep. John Delaney said in a statement that he voted for the resolution because it was important to denounce activity by the U.N. that “does not serve the interests of peace, security or human rights in the region.”

“I continue to believe that we need a fair two-state solution and do not support efforts to expand settlements in the West Bank,” he wrote. “However, this U.N.S.C. Resolution goes much too far. We will never see peace in the region achieved by one-sided measures led by outside bodies, which is what this U.N.S.C. Resolution represents.”

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington had backed the legislation and sent out an action alert during the week urging people to call their members of Congress to vote yes. Executive Director Ron Halber said the United Nations vote was “particularly egregious” and that the JCRC had a responsibility to speak out.

During the debate, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the resolution was “not about settlements or peace” but about “one thing and one thing only: “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state.

“I am stunned. I am stunned at what happened last month,” he said. “This government, our government abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us most.”

Engel noted that this was the first time that President Barack Obama’s administration’s failed to veto a U.N. resolution opposed by Israel. Previous presidents had allowed such resolutions to pass, Engel said. But that was not a reason for the Obama administration to do so.

“My mother used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right, and she was right,” he said.  It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. I think allowing governments to bully Israel in the UN is a mistake, no matter who’s in power.”

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