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Chicago’s Congress Members Were Closely Divided on U.N. Anti-Settlements Resolution

When the U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to condemn a U.N. Security Council resolution denouncing as illegal Jewish settlements in the Israeli occupied West Bank, the voting profile of Chicago-area members differed markedly from the House as a whole.

While the House overwhelmingly backed the condemnation of the U.N. by a lopsided vote of 342 to 80, Chicago’s representatives were almost evenly divided.

Pete Roskam, Brad Schneider, Mike Quigley, and Dan Lipinski voted for it, while Jan Schakowsky, Luis Gutierrez, Robin Kelly, and Danny Davis were against. Bobby Rush was absent for the vote.

Schneider, who had been sworn in just two days earlier to represent the north suburban 10th congressional district, was a cosponsor of the bill and spoke up in its defense. In his speech from the House floor, he emphasized the impossibility of separating Jewish identity from the Western Wall a site holy to three religions in Jerusalem.

Israel has sponsored many exclusively Jewish housing developments in Jerusalem on the Palestinian side of the city, which Israel has controlled since the 1967 Six Day War. In the absence of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, the international community views these developments as illegal under international law.

“The resolution overwhelmingly assigns blame to Israel, while averting direct criticism of Palestinian incitement and violence,” Schneider said. “The US has, and must continue to seek a sustainable two-state solution with a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized, democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security. But the only path to two states is through direct negotiations between two parties.”

Schakowsky, who represents the 9th congressional district, encompassing portions of the city’s north and northwest sides and the northern Cook County suburbs, is, like Schneider, a Democrat and a Jew. And she pointedly also cites her support for a two-state solution as the rationale for her support of the U.N. resolution.

“Because I believe so strongly in a two-state solution, I support the vote to abstain,” she wrote on her Facebook page on December 30, before the congressional vote. “I share [UN ambassador Samantha Power’s] view that a solution that hasn’t been negotiated by the two parties cannot be imposed.” But citing a 1982 speech by President Ronald Reagan, she highlighted his statement that “further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely negotiated.”

On Monday Schakowsky also condemned an attack by a Palestinian in Jerusalem over the weekend that left four young soldiers dead.

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