Will the Obama Administration Veto UN Resolution Critical of Israel?

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The Obama administration finds itself in a diplomatic jam.

It is possible that later today it will have to decide whether or not to break from its steadfast support for Israel in the United Nations and support a measure in the Security Council that nearly reiterates its own policy.

The source of the quandary is a resolution introduced at the Security Council last month by Lebanon and backed by more than a hundred countries, that would condemn Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank as "illegal."

The United States, seeking to avoid a step it believes would further complicate efforts to revive stalled peace talks, has since scrambled to prevent the resolution from being put to a vote.

Led by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, the United States has proposed alternatives, including a weaker so-called Presidential Statement that it says would be non-binding and also balance the criticism by mentioning rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza, according to a U.S. official.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. is searching for a solution, but wouldn't say what.

"We are working with our partners in the Security Council, with our friends in the region, to find a consensus way forward that is consistent with our overall approach. There are a lot of rumors flying around and I'm not going to get into any specifics at this time," she said.

U.N. diplomats tell ABC News the Palestinians have to decide over the next few hours whether to accept the alternative, otherwise the Lebanese are prepared to put the original resolution to a vote on Friday afternoon.

If the resolution comes to a vote the United States would have to decide whether to veto it or abstain and let it pass.

This week, the United States stepped up the pressure to avoid a vote on the resolution.

Ambassador Rice met with several of her counterparts from Arab countries, including the Palestinians, and on Thursday President Obama phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

It appears the Palestinians and their Arab backers remain undeterred.

A spokesman for President Abbas was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying that during the lengthy call, President Obama made clear the U.S. would veto a resolution if it came to a vote and President Abbas vowed not to back down.

Following the call, Abbas reportedly called an emergency meeting with Palentine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah leadership.

What makes the proposed resolution so awkward for the United States is how closely its text is to U.S. rhetoric slamming Israel for its continued settlement activity over the past two years.

That's no accident. Diplomatic sources say the resolution's authors purposely based its wording on how the United States has expressed its criticism, making it harder for the United States to not publicly support it at the United Nations.

Indeed, on Nov. 2, 2009, Secretary Clinton declared that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," a position she reiterated in a speech to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on March 22, 2010 and again in a speech to the Saban Center Forum on Dec. 10, 2010.

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