House votes to rebuke UN on Israeli settlement resolution

The House passed a resolution on Thursday denouncing the Obama administration’s abstention from a critical United Nations Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements.

Lawmakers of both parties supported the measure in a 342-80 vote, with four Democrats voting "present." A majority of Democrats, 109, voted for the resolution; 76 Democrats opposed it. All but four Republicans voted for the resolution.

The Obama administration drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike last month when it declined to veto a U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian territories as a violation of international law.

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“This government, our government, abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most,” Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE (R-Wis.) said in an animated House floor speech. “These types of one-sided efforts are designed to isolate and delegitimize Israel. They do not advance peace. They make it more elusive.”

The U.N. measure passed 14-0, with support from countries including the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia. The U.S. had the power to veto the resolution by virtue of its permanent membership in the Security Council, but opted to abstain.

The Obama administration defended its break from the longstanding U.S. policy of shielding its closest Middle Eastern ally by arguing that settlements undermine any potential path to a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Last month’s vote was the first time the Security Council passed a resolution critical of Israel in the conflict with Palestine during Obama’s presidency. The Obama administration has used its veto power in support of Israel in the past. More resolutions opposed by Israel went forward under each of the previous four administrations.

“I think allowing governments to bully Israel in the U.N. is a mistake, no matter who’s in power,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who co-sponsored Thursday’s resolution.

Passage of the resolution is likely the beginning of lawmakers’ response to the U.N. action. Some top Republicans, such as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Supreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink Crenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat MORE (R-Texas), have said they want to rescind federal funding for the U.N., though no such legislation has emerged yet.

Thursday’s vote is only the latest example of lawmakers in Congress, particularly Republicans, siding with conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over President Obama.

Then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLongtime House parliamentarian to step down Five things we learned from this year's primaries Bad blood between Pelosi, Meadows complicates coronavirus talks MORE (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to address Congress in 2015 without consultation from the White House, a breach of protocol that angered administration officials and further soured the president’s relationship with the Israeli prime minister. Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe Memo: Warning signs flash for Trump on debates Divided country, divided church TV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month MORE all declined to meet with Netanyahu during his visit to Washington.

Several dozen Democrats skipped Netanyahu’s speech, which largely served to warn against negotiating with Iran over its nuclear weapons, out of loyalty to the president.

Later that year, nearly 30 Democrats in both chambers voted against the international accord to curb Iran’s nuclear arsenal amid furious lobbying from pro-Israel advocates.

Members of the House Democratic leadership were split. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (S.C.) voted against the resolution, while Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (N.Y.) joined Republicans in support.

Hoyer has said he doesn’t support Israel’s expansion of settlements but thinks the Security Council shouldn’t meddle in the conflict.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McConnell pushes back on Trump: 'There will be an orderly transition' MORE (R-Fla.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinPelosi hopeful COVID-19 relief talks resume 'soon' Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out PPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  MORE (D-Md.), introduced a similar resolution this week objecting to the U.N.’s vote. So far, no vote has been scheduled on the measure.

The Senate has been consumed with passing a budget to pave the way for repealing ObamaCare in its first week of the new Congress.