U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 and Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts
On January 5, 2017 I voted “Present” on H. Res. 11, Objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 as an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. This non-binding resolution divided the Massachusetts delegation but passed the House by a vote of 342-80. Constituents expressed passionate and thoughtful opinions in support and in opposition. I am grateful for their interest and concern.
The House, and the Senate in S. Res. 5, were responding to the recent United Nations Security Council vote on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israel wanted the U.S. to exercise its veto; instead the U.S. abstained. It should be noted that the Security Council resolution itself is not binding on Israel or any other United Nations member. People on all sides of this issue disagree on how much harm it could actually do to Israel. I believe no real harm could be done without further UN votes and the U.S. would veto any such attempt — as we always have done. A copy of the UN resolution is here: [PDF]
H. Res. 11 reiterated support for a two-state solution, negotiated between the parties and also stated the belief that the UN resolution “undermined the longstanding position of the U.S. to oppose and veto UNSC resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status, or are one-sided and anti-Israel”. The full text of that resolution can be found here: [PDF]
Several Members of Congress, led by Rep. David Price (NC), tried to offer an alternative to H. Res. 11 that was less explicitly critical of the U.S. abstention. Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee denied them that option. In fact, the Rules Committee also denied the minority party the right to offer ANY alternative draft. This is highly unusual and very undemocratic. The alternative was introduced this week as H. Res. 23 and I am proud to co-sponsor. The legislation states that “the U.S. should continue to support a durable and sustainable two-state solution”. The text of that alternative can be found here.
The U.S. has always been and always will be Israel’s best friend. We provide them with more aid than any other country and are committed to maintaining their “qualitative military edge.” We have pledged to defend them with American boots-on-the-ground if necessary, though Israel has never in its history asked for such support. We have vetoed more anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and elsewhere than can be counted.
I am a strong supporter of Israel as my voting record in Congress and political leadership in Massachusetts have illustrated. I have never believed that warring parties can be brought together by poking one of them in the eye or forcing one of them to submit. Peace is achieved through mutual respect and trust — which is harder to find than it should be. Peace cannot be imposed in the Middle East — it will have to come by the two parties (and their supporters) working it out. That does not mean their friends remain silent.
Virtually everyone in America and Israel claims to support a two-state solution. However, even the closest friend and allies may disagree on how best to achieve that goal. Israelis, living in a real and often boisterous democracy, disagree. So do American supporters of Israel, and, from time to time there are differences between the U.S. and Israel — despite our shared goals.
I felt I could not support the resolution as written, nor could I in conscience oppose it. Therefore, I chose to vote Present. I judged it the best way to demonstrate my personal commitment to keeping America as an “honest broker” in a troubled region, while maintaining our support of Israel.
I offer statements made by both J Street and AIPAC — both nationally respected pro-Israel groups:
I voted PRESENT on H. Res. 11. It passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
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