United Jewish Federation of Tidewater condemns U.S. failure to veto Security Council Resolution

January 16, 2017

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The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater condemns, without reservation, the decision of the Obama administration not to use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to defeat a resolution criticizing Israeli settlements. The measure is clearly a blow, despite claims to the contrary by the Obama Administration, to the chances for peace and, undeservedly, places the blame for the lack of progress toward peace predominantly on Israel.

The absence of a veto encourages the Palestinians to continue using the United Nations as a vehicle to draw international condemnation onto Israel, validate and now extend its Boycott, Divestiture and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and most importantly, for the Palestinians, to avoid direct peace talks with Israel. The Obama administration conveniently forgot what it once learned and came to know in 2009 when it asked for and received from the Netanyahu administration a ten-month freeze on settlement construction. The Palestinian administration responded with a number of excuses almost to the very end as to why it could not enter into direct negotiations with Israel. It virtually chose to let time expire and continue to seek comfort in the arms of an Israel bashing U.N.

The decision not to veto rejected efforts and advice from President-elect Trump and leading members of both houses of congress not to abandon a core principle of American foreign policy with respect to Israel. It is a policy that had been embraced by American administrations of both political parties for decades and which recognized that the only possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations between both sides.

In 2011, the United States vetoed a similar resolution and, in 2014, Ambassador Power, in offering the vote that defeated another then-pending smearing resolution, stated that “peace will come from hard choices and compromises that must be made at the negotiating table.” This rationale is even more relevant today.

It is hard to understand why an administration that voiced such sentiments in 2014 would fail to veto similar measures today. It is hard to accept that an administration which supported the manifestation, only weeks ago, of a $38 billion military aid package for Israel would conduct a 180 degree turnaround in policy today. It is hard to believe that the abandonment of a broad bipartisan consensus regarding U.S-Israeli relations in the U.N. is anything but a failure of leadership by the Obama administration. Its occurrence during a lame duck period seems to be ill-timed at best and a calculated act of retribution with far reaching ramifications at worst. Regardless, it has further undermined prospects for peace and we strongly condemn the act.

Jay Klebanoff
President, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater

Harry Graber
Executive Vice President, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater

Letter to the Editor