The United Nations Security Council is set to consider a resolution, submitted jointly by Arab nations, that would formally condemn the construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. Some wonder whether the U.S. might veto the proposal, which has 120 co-sponsors. The U.S. traditionally uses its veto power to shield Israel from UN condemnation. Some observers are calling for the U.S. to break with its habit and allow the condemnation to go forward--after all, they point out, the U.S. regularly criticizes the settlements, anyway. But others are insisting that the U.S. continue to protect Israel. Here's what they're saying.
- Veto Would Hurt U.S. Interests A number of commentators as well as former U.S. diplomats and State Department officials have signed a letter urging Obama not to veto. Here's an excerpt:
If the proposed resolution is consistent with existing and established US policies, then deploying a veto would severely undermine US credibility and interests, placing us firmly outside of the international consensus, and further diminishing our ability to mediate this conflict.
- 'This Is Not Rocket Science' Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi writes in the International Herald Tribune:
With America unwilling to hold Israel accountable to international law and existing agreements, Israel has remained intransigent in the face of international efforts to revive genuine negotiations. A Security Council resolution would reaffirm today’s international consensus in support of the two-state solution by recognizing the threat posed by illegal settlements. This is not rocket science. Settlements are built on occupied Palestinian land. They also entail the exploitation of Palestine’s natural resources, including water. Both belong to a future Palestinian state. Without them, no Palestinian state can be viable.
- Why Tunisia Makes This Tougher "It was always going to be a struggle," Time's Tony Karon explains, "for the U.S. to dissuade its Arab allies from going ahead with a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. But last week's people-power rebellion in Tunisia has only made Washington's effort to lobby against the plan more difficult. Tunisia will have given the autocratic leaders of countries such as Egypt and Jordan more reason to fear their own people. For those regimes, symbolically challenging unconditional U.S. support for Israel is a low-cost gesture that will play well on the restive street."
- 'Yes' Vote Could Succeed Where Past Efforts Failed UN Dispatch's Mark Leon Goldberg writes, "It seems to me the United States has no choice but to support a resolution that: 1) Clearly represents of the American position on new settlement construction. 2) Moves an issue forward that is currently stuck in place. (Hillary Clinton’s harsh words were summarily ignored by Netanyahu.) 3) Is broadly in the interests of peace, not to mention international law."
- 'Obama Will Veto' The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin predicts, "Take it to the bank: Obama will veto the U.N. resolution, signaling once again that an American president cannot follow the agenda of the far-left (in this case joined by a hodge-podge of Republican Israel bashers who've been out of power for a generation) and expect to protect America's vital interests."