US abstains from UN resolution condemning Israel
The United States abstained from a vote at the United Nations, allowing other countries to pass a resolution condemning Israel. From the New York Times:
Defying extraordinary pressure from President-elect Donald J. Trump and furious lobbying by Israel, the Obama administration on Friday allowed the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction.
The administration’s decision not to veto the measure broke a longstanding American tradition of serving as Israel’s sturdiest diplomatic shield.
Applause broke out in the 15-member Security Council’s chambers following the vote on the measure, which passed 14-0, with the United States abstaining.
The resolution was originally introduced by Egypt on Wednesday but Egypt backed off, requesting a delay of the vote after Israel sought help from President-elect Trump. However, other nations brought the resolution to a vote. Israeli officials blamed the passage of the resolution on President Obama, even suggested he had pushed it behind the scenes. From CNN:
“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN,” a senior Israeli official told CNN. “President Obama could declare his willingness to veto this resolution in an instant but instead is pushing it. This is an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN and undermines the prospects of working with the next administration of advancing peace.”
After the vote, Ambassador Samantha Power gave a speech implicitly criticizing the vote the U.S. had just allowed and saying Israel has long been treated differently at the UN. “For the simple truth is that for as long as Israel has been a member of this institution, Israel has been treated differently from other nations at the United Nations,” Power said. “And not only in decades past…but also in 2016, this year. One need only look at the 18 resolutions against Israel adopted during the UN General Assembly in September or the 12 Israel-specific resolutions adopted this year in the human rights council, more than those focused on Syria, North Korea, Iran and South Sudan put together.”
Reactions to the decision to abstain have been appearing on Twitter. Paul Ryan called it “absolutely shameful” and Newt Gingrich said Obama had “abandoned Israel.”