An overwhelming majority of senators are pressing President Obama not to abandon the United States’ traditional veto of any United Nations efforts deemed to be “one-sided” against Israel amid concerns that the president will change course on his way out the door.
On Monday, 88 senators, led by Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), expressed their opposition to any such move, signing on to a letter sent ahead of Obama’s planned meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiating table and make the compromises necessary for peace,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We urge you to continue longstanding U.S. policy and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided [U.N. Security Council] resolution that may be offered in the coming months,” they added. “Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.”
Over the weekend, a former high-ranking administration diplomat suggested that Obama may be more reluctant to veto any U.N. Security Council proposal deemed overly sympathetic to Palestinians if Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, is elected president in November.
“I suspect that if Trump wins, the president would be more inclined to go for a Security Council resolution to try to do something that binds, creates standards for the future that the next president couldn’t undo,” Dennis Ross said at a conference in California.
Declining to veto a measure focused on Israeli settlements or other contentious issues would be a dramatic break for the U.S. and could bind future presidents.
It would also create deep frustration on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers trip over each other to be seen as staunch defenders of Israel.