US Congress pressuring Obama to veto UN Resolutions for Palestine

Published April 17th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
American President Barack Obama. (AFP/File)
American President Barack Obama. (AFP/File)

More than 90 percent of the United States House of Representatives have signed a letter urging Obama to veto "any resolution at the United Nations that sets parameters for Israeli-Palestinian talks."

Release of the letter comes as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to present a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements to the UN Security Council in New York from April 21 to 23.

The resolution will be the first to directly condemn Israeli settlements as illegal under international law since the United States vetoed a similar resolution in 2011.

The congressional letter -- signed by 394 members of the total 435 -- expressed support for a two-state solution and voiced concern that "one-sided initiatives may arise at the UN in the coming months... Such efforts dangerously hinder the prospects for resuming direct negotiations."

In a press release Thursday, the UN said the viability of the internationally-backed two-state solution is "in danger," citing Israel's expansions of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank as a main threat to negotiations.

The construction of Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land has long been considered a violation of international law by the UN, although Israel contests this and has yet to be held accountable by the international community.

The forthcoming UN resolution will mark the latest attempt by the Palestinian leadership to counter ongoing Israeli violations in the international arena, brought on in part by decades of failed negotiations.

Members of the United States Congress in March delayed a payment of $159 million in aid allocated for the Palestinian Authority in effort to pressure the PA to relaunch negotiations with Israel.

In spite of this most recent move by US lawmakers to boost ties with Israel, there has been growing criticism among some American politicians of Israel's violations of human rights.

In a departure from mainstream American political discourse, during the Democratic debate Thursday US senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders condemned Israel for killing Palestinian civilians in Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014 and said

"There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu is not right all of the time."

The US's annual report of global human rights abuses was published Thursday that highlighted numerous allegations of Israeli rights abuses, including the arbitrary arrest and torture of Palestinians, as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement and speech, and accused Israel of an "excessive use of force" against Palestinians, amounting to a violation of human rights.

A joint letter published last month by senior Democrat Patrick Leahy and 10 other congressmen suggested that some US military aid to Israel should be suspended if reports of "gross violations of human rights," including "extrajudicial killings," should be proven true.

While US-Israel relations have seen a series of diplomatic disputes during Obama's administration, Israel remains the number one long-time recipient of US military aid, and discussions regarding a new aid agreement have been ongoing.

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