Dem senators back Trump on UN Israel veto

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Several Democratic senators have joined President-elect Donald Trump in calling for the Obama administration to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.

The Security Council is expected to vote on the controversial measure around 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, one day after it was postponed after pressure from Trump and Israel. In statements Friday, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (W.Va), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) all echoed Trump’s call for a veto.

“I urge the Obama administration to veto the United Nations resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building,” Manchin, who could face a tough re-election in 2018 after Trump won his state by more than 40 percentage points, said in his statement. “I support two-party negotiations to reach agreement on any settlement issues, and this U.N. resolution is not the way to pursue peace between the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel.”

In his own statement, Blumenthal said the U.N. resolution would “undermine” opportunities for “productive discussions” between Palestinians and Isreal.

{mosads}“Consistent with past policy, this administration must now veto this most recent misguided and one-sided attempt backed by the Palestinian Authority to isolate Israel and weaken the peace process,” Blumenthal said.

Coons also called on Obama to veto the resolution.

“Should this come before a vote at the U.N., I urge the president to veto the resolution because it does nothing to advance peace or hope for a two-state solution,” Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added in his own statement.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) publicly called on the resolution to be blocked, noting he has spoken privately with Obama administration “numerous times” and urged it “in the strongest possible terms” to veto the measure. 
“I am strongly opposed to the U.N. putting pressure on Israel through one-sided resolutions. An abstention is not good enough. The Administration must veto this resolution,” he said in statement. 
Schumer, who is both the highest-ranking Jewish lawmaker and the next Senate Democratic leader, added that “the U.N. has long shown its anti-Israel bias, and the U.S. government… [has] admirably kept the U.N. out when it comes to negotiations” to reach a two-state solution. 
It’s not the first time Schumer has bucked Obama on foreign policy, previously voting against the Iran nuclear deal. 

The U.S. was reportedly poised to allow the draft resolution to pass by abstention Thursday, which would have marked a break from American policy on U.N. actions against the settlements. The Security Council postponed its original vote, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi instructing his country’s U.N. mission to delay the vote, reportedly over Israeli pressure.

Trump waded into the debate Thursday, calling for the contentious resolution to be vetoed.

“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through imposition of terms by the United Nations,” he said in a statement. “This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

The decision to forge ahead on the resolution occurred Friday when four Security Council members—New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal—requested a vote.

Critics of Israel’s settlement policies, including the Obama administration, maintain that building settlement in territory also claimed by Palestinians disrupts peace talks between both sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends the settlements are legal, however.

Tags Charles Schumer Chris Coons Democrats Diplomacy Donald Trump Foreign policy Israel Joe Manchin Richard Blumenthal settlements U.N. United Nations
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