Michigan leaders voted against pro-Israeli resolution that condemned the U.N.
|Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the U.S. House floor|
WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to condemn a U.N. resolution reprimanding Israel over its settlement activity, blasting last month's move by the international body as "an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace".
Congressional measure passes 342 to 80, with broad bipartisan support. Michigan's Debbie Dingell, John Conyers and Justin Amash voted against the resolution. Amash, a Palestinian American, was one of four Republicans to vote no on it.
It noted that the U.S. administration's refusal to veto the controversial Security Council measure "undermined" Washington's decades-long position of opposing anti-Israel action at the United Nations.
Enraged lawmakers - and President-elect Donald Trump - have assailed Obama's outgoing administration for abstaining in the Dec. 23 U.N. vote, essentially clearing the way for the resolution.
"I am stunned at what happened last month. This government - our government - abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most," House Speaker Paul Ryan told the chamber shortly before the House vote.
"It is time to repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the U.N.," he added.
White House aides have said that while Obama is a firm supporter of Israel, he felt that after eight years he had simply run out of ways to convince that Israel building on Palestinian land is sabotaging hopes for peace.
The House measure, which is non-binding, calls for the U.N. resolution "to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that... it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel" and allows all final status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved through direct bilateral negotiation.
It also demands that the U.S. ensure that no action be taken at the Jan. 15
Paris Conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would impose an agreement on the two sides.
A similar bipartisan resolution was introduced in the Senate, where Republican Ted Cruz on Thursday slammed Obama and his administration, saying the failure to veto the U.N. measure marked their attempt "to lash out... at Israel with their last breath in office".
Cruz said he will propose legislation designed to cut funding to the U.N. unless the anti-Israel resolution is repealed or made more balanced.
But some congressional Democrats insisted the Capitol Hill vote had more to do with taking a final jab at Obama than condemning his administration's lack of action.
"It's subterfuge. This is about kicking a president on the way out, one more time," fumed House Democrat Gerry Connolly, who voted no on the resolution.
Supporters of the U.N. measure say Obama did not betray Israel but simply allowed a resolution that reiterates U.S. traditional policy that considers settlements an obstacle to peace.
Despite Congress’s swiftness in passing the pro-Israeli resolution, some observers saw a shift in attitudes towards the conflict, particularly in the Democratic camp.
"Seventy-six Democrats voted against the AIPAC resolution on the house floor a moment ago. Well above the numbers that skipped Netanyahu's speech," Yousef Munayyer, director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, tweeted.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence welcomed Congress's vote.
“Great to see strong bipartisan vote in Congress opposing recent UN resolution against our most cherished ally. America stands with Israel,” he Tweeted.