UNITED NATIONS — The administration has indicated that it would vote in favor of the first resolution introduced by Israel to the United Nations General Assembly in 27 years.
The resolution, which is on the protection of children, was to be formally introduced in the third committee of the General Assembly on Wednesday in response to an Arab resolution on Palestinian children that was adopted last week.
While Washington voted against the Arab resolution, a State Department official said the U.S. would support the Israeli one.
The resolution is very likely to be defeated since the Arab countries and their non-aligned allies have a majority of votes in the General Assembly and the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. publicly called for the defeat of the resolution.
The American decision was not an obvious one since Washington was caught by surprise by the Israeli move and forced to make a difficult choice, diplomats said.
“The Israelis were very happy about this, but they did not tell the Americans,” an observer said, adding that Washington had asked Israel to withdraw the resolution.
Observers said a positive vote would open Washington to charges of pro-Israel bias while an abstention or a negative vote would have been perceived as a rare rebuke to Jerusalem.
The State Department official said Israel gave Washington short notice that it was introducing the resolution. But he declined to comment on any pressure.
Arye Mekel, the deputy ambassador of Israel to the U.N., told the Forward that the Americans had been told about the initiative several days in advance and had indicated their support rather than asking Israel to step back.
Richard Schifter, the head of the American Jewish Committee’s commission on international affairs, said he had no doubt that the United States would vote in favor of the Israeli resolution, which he deemed “a very useful means of pointing out the essential immorality” of the U.N. handling of Israel.
While “omnibus” resolutions about children have been passed for years with no geographical distinction, the Arab group for the first time last year introduced a resolution specifically dealing with Palestinian children. It obtained a majority of votes, with the European Union abstaining and the United States voting against the measure — a pattern that was repeated last week.
The E.U. has indicated it will abstain from voting on the Israeli resolution.