March 31, 2015

Cardin, Collins, Warner, Wicker to Obama: Continue to Stand by Israel at the United Nations

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, sent a letter to President Barack Obama Monday opposing efforts to bypass direct negotiations and impose peace terms on Israel at the United Nations (UN) and other international bodies.

 

“We are committed to ensuring a viable two-state solution that would protect Israel’s security and ensure economic opportunity for Palestinians, but we oppose efforts to bypass direct negotiations and impose peace terms on Israel at the United Nations and other international bodies,” the Senators wrote in their letter to President Obama.

 

“The United States has been a stalwart defender of Israel against discriminatory actions at the United Nations. We must remain firm in opposing actions that are designed to circumvent direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Using the United Nations to push Israel and the Palestinians to accept terms defined by others will only ensure that the parties themselves are not committed to observing these provisions.”

 

The full text of the letter is below and can be downloaded here.

                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

                                                                                                                                                                                           March 30, 2015

 

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

We are writing to affirm the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the need for our continued partnership at the United Nations. We are committed to ensuring a viable two-state solution that would protect Israel’s security and ensure economic opportunity for Palestinians, but we oppose efforts to bypass direct negotiations and impose peace terms on Israel at the United Nations and other international bodies.

 

Our longstanding commitment to Israel transcends any one leader or government.  For decades, both Democratic and Republican administrations have stood by Israel in opposing anti-Israel or one-sided resolutions at the UN Security Council and other UN agencies. As you said at the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, “I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades… Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations ... Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians – not us –who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.”  Now more than ever, those sentiments ring true.

 

The United States has been a stalwart defender of Israel against discriminatory actions at the United Nations.  We must remain firm in opposing actions that are designed to circumvent direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.  We know from past experience that the UN is not an impartial broker when it comes to Israel.  Using the United Nations to push Israel and the Palestinians to accept terms defined by others will only ensure that the parties themselves are not committed to observing these provisions.  This will set back the opportunities for peace in the long term.

 

We must make clear our willingness to use our veto power to block such efforts at the UN Security Council and our continuing defense of Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council and other agencies where Israel is under constant assault. Given the traditionally hostile environment at the United Nations and the intention of Palestinian leaders and their supporters to use the UN and the International Criminal Court as leverage to extract unilateral concessions from Israel, maintaining U.S. resolve in standing together with Israel at the U.N. is essential.

 

The shared threats our two countries face in the tumultuous Middle East should be a stark reminder as to how critical it is for the U.S. and Israel to continue to work closely together, both in our bilateral dealings and also at the UN and other international fora.  The United States must continue to make clear that we stand firmly by our important ally at the UN.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

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