Senate bill proposes to defund UN over Israel settlement vote

January 13, 2017 7:30 am

Senators Ted Cruz (L) and Lindsey Graham (file photo)

Two US senators have introduced legislation to withdraw funding for the United Nations over last month’s resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction on the occupied Palestinian territories.
The bill, called the Safeguard Israel Act, was presented Thursday by Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, and would cut off funding for the UN until the US president confirms the repeal of the Security Council Resolution 2334 that called Israel’s settlements a violation of international law.
The US, which has vetoed similar measures in the past, abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to be adopted.
Sen. Cruz said President Barack Obama “betrayed decades of robust bipartisan American support for Israel” by having his administration abstain from voting.
“Congress must hold the UN accountable and use our leverage as its largest contributor to push for the repeal of this resolution, making it clear to the world that Congress stands unequivocally against efforts to undermine Israel,” the Texas senator said.
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry faced bipartisan pressure from Congress ahead of the vote to use America’s veto authority to kill the UN resolution.

In this image released by the UN, Samantha Power, the US permanent representative to the world body, addresses the Security Council after the December 23, 2016, vote on Israeli settlements. (Via AFP)

Graham, who oversees funding for the State Department and foreign operations, denounced the vote as “a slap” against Israel.
“I begged the UN months before; don’t put me in this box. This was John Kerry and Obama taking a slap at Israel,” the South Carolina Republican said.
“Twenty-two percent of the money to fund the UN comes from the American taxpayer. I don’t think it is a good investment for the American taxpayer to give money to an organization that condemns the only democracy in the Mideast,” he added.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan measure last week to disapprove the Security Council’s rebuke of Israel.
The measure stated that the US “should oppose and veto future United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Obama and Kerry of being personally behind the “shameful act” and summoned the US ambassador over the issue.
White House officials said Obama felt he had tried for eight years and simply failed to convince Netanyahu that settlement building on Palestinian land was sabotaging the “two-state solution.”
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