Will the Obama Administration Veto UN Resolution Critical of Israel?


On May 27, 2009, she said President Obama had told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "he wants to see a stop to settlements, not – some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interest of the effort we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease."

The Obama administration has maintained that it is focused on bringing the two parties together for negotiations and that such efforts at the United Nations only enflame tensions, something Secretary Clinton stressed on Thursday.

"Our focus is on doing what is best to advance negotiations between the parties that will lead to a two state solution and we have consistently over many years said that the United Nations Security Council resolutions that would come before the Security Council are not the right vehicle to advance that goal," she said.

This diplomatic showdown comes as Mideast peace talks remain stalled after they broke down just weeks after they began in early September, stymied by an inability to resolve the settlement issue.

The Palestinians, frustrated by a lack of progress in the peace process, have sought to push their case in the United Nations, including an effort to get the world body to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

The American push for a weaker Presidential Statement has been further complicated by the fact that, while the U.S. insists now that such measures are non-binding, Ambassador Rice argued the opposite about an earlier Presidential Statement condemning North Korea.

How Will the U.S. Vote?

American domestic politics hasn't made it any easier for the administration either.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the new chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a staunch supporter of Israel, issued a statement slamming the Obama administration for reportedly wavering in its decision on how to handle the vote in the Security Council.

"Support for this anti-Israel statement is a major concession to enemies of the Jewish State and other free democracies. It telegraphs that the U.S. can be bullied into abandoning critical democratic allies and core U.S. principles," she said.

"Offering to criticize our closest ally at the UN isn't leadership, it's unacceptable. Pretending that criticism of Israel is OK if it comes in a 'Presidential Statement' instead of a resolution isn't leadership, it's unacceptable. Twisting and turning and trying yourself into knots to avoid using our veto to defend our allies and interests isn't leadership, it's unacceptable," she added.

The Ranking Member on the committee, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), also urged the Obama administration to veto the resolution.

"I strongly urge the Palestinians, for the sake of peace, to cease their efforts at the UN and return at once to the negotiating table. Should they nevertheless persist, I strongly urge the Administration to veto any UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel and to oppose use of any international forum for anti-Israel purposes," he said.

Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican from Nebraska, piled on, saying in a statement that "The Obama administration is heading down a dangerous course that is unacceptable for our country and our relationship with Israel."

"Abandoning one of our most important allies in the name of negotiation is wrong and won't bring us any closer to a two-state solution," said Johanns, who as one of 17 senators from both sides of the aisle who sent Secretary Clinton a letter last month demanding that the U.S. veto the resolution.

"We believe such a move hurts the prospects for a peace agreement and is not in the interest of the United States," the senators wrote to Clinton in their January 18 letter, the same day Lebanon introduced the resolution to the Security Council.

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matt Jaffe contributed to this report.

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