(JTA) — The World Jewish Congress joined calls by lawmakers in Israel and the United States, including incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, urging the Obama administration to veto an anti-settlement resolution at the U.N. Security Council.
The WJC statement Friday by its president, Ronald Lauder, followed vigorous lobbying for a veto in Jerusalem and by President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday and Friday. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on President Barack Obama to veto the draft resolution submitted by Egypt in coordination with the Palestinians, which called settlements “a flagrant violation of international law” that damaged the prospects of two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Following a telephone conversation between Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt put the draft resolution on hold. But four Security Council member states, New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal, said they would submit their own draft resolution amid speculation that Obama intended to let it pass if brought to a vote Friday.
“We urge the United States, Israel’s greatest ally, to veto this text,” Lauder wrote in reference to the later draft. “It is counterproductive, and does nothing to enhance the role of the United Nations in resolving the Middle East conflict.”
Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Friday that he spoke directly with the administration several times, as recently as that morning, “and in the strongest terms possible urged them to veto this resolution.”
“Whatever one’s views are on settlements, anyone who cares about the future of Israel and peace in the region knows that the U.N., with its one sidedness, is exactly the wrong forum to bring about peace,” he wrote.
The junior senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, also a Democrat, wrote in a statement: “I call on the Administration to do everything in its power to make sure this resolution is not put forward or passed.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wrote in a statement sent out by his office: “Unilateral resolutions of this kind do not advance the cause of peace, and I would urge the Administration to make every effort to oppose its being brought forward and make it clear that it will veto the measure if necessary.”
Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., backed the veto calls, adding he would work in a bipartisan fashion to reduce U.S. funding to the United Nations
should the draft resolution pass.
According to The Times of Israel, Israeli officials were furious that the Obama administration allegedly was going to allow the vote to pass. The news site quoted someone described as “an Israeli official” as saying: “President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.”
Neither Trump’s team nor Egyptian officials would reveal the contents of the talk between the president-elect and al-Sisi. Both Trump and Netanyahu took to social networks to call for a U.S. veto.
On Facebook, Trump wrote that the Egyptian draft resolution should be vetoed.
“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” he wrote.
And Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: “The U.S. should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday,” referring to the Egyptian text. It was an unusually public appeal regarding an issue that is usually coordinated between the two allies behind closed doors, suggesting that Netanyahu was not certain that the United States under Obama would indeed veto.
Israel approached the Trump campaign after it felt that it had failed to persuade the Obama administration to veto the planned vote, an Israeli official told CNN. The official said that Israel “implored the White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump.”
The United States has long complained of anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.
Under Obama, Washington also publicly criticized Israeli construction in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and all other lands captured by Israel in 1967 as detrimental to the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.