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US House of Representatives approve pro-Israel resolution, dismiss UN

Jan. 6, 2017 4:46 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 8, 2017 1:53 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The US House of Representatives on Friday approved a bipartisan resolution rejecting UN resolution 2334 that passed last month strongly denouncing Israel’s illegal settlement building in occupied Palestinian territory, and instead stated their unwavering commitment and support for the state of Israel.

According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, the lawmakers passed the non-binding resolution with a staggering 342 representatives voting in favor, and 80 voting against.

The resolution confirmed US commitment as a diplomatic ally to the Israeli government and demands that the US government dismiss any future UN resolutions they deemed “anti-Israel.”

The resolution has been introduced as President-Elect Donald Trump will be sworn in as the American President on Jan. 20, and as Republicans control both the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time since 2007.

Trump has been a vocal supporter for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, which have been condemned by the international community as representing a clear violation of international law.

Republican Representative for Wisconsin, Paul Ryan was quoted by Ynet following the resolution’s passing as saying “Our government abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most,” and it is “time to repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the UN," referring to President Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from vetoing the UN resolution, marking a sharp shift in US policy toward Israel at the UN.

The UN’s anti-settlement resolution passed at the United Nations Security Council last month, which reiterated the international community’s rejection of Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory and restated its illegality under international law.

Right-wing politicians in both the US and Israel have voiced their disdain for Obama’s decision to abstain from the vote at the UN, with Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz saying at the time that the United States had “abandoned” Israel by abstaining from the vote, adding that “the heart aches that after eight years of friendship… and cooperation with Obama, this is his final chord" in the departing Obama administration.

The Israeli government has also openly expressed its anticipation for a Trump presidency when right-wing politicians believe they will more easily advance plans to expand Israeli settlements and consolidate Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.

However, the condemnation of Obama’s move at the UN came despite the President signing a $38 billion military aid package back in September, promising Israel the hefty sum in the form of financial assistance and missile defense systems over the course of 10 years. The deal represents the largest foreign aid package given to a country in US history.

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 US representatives have largely neglected efforts to hold Israel accountable for violations of Palestinian rights and international law.

In April, more than 90 percent of the United States House of Representatives signed a letter urging Obama to veto “any resolution at the United Nations that sets parameters for Israeli-Palestinian talks.”

Meanwhile, critics have pointed out that multiple UN resolutions condemning Israeli policies in the Palestinian territory have been previously passed, but the lack of political will to enforce such measures has remained clear, with Israeli authorities in 2016 approving thousands of new settler units on occupied Palestinian land and allocating millions of dollars to the expansion of settlements.

On Wednesday, three US senators-- Republicans Ted Cruz (Texas), Dean Heller (Nevada), and Marco Rubio (Florida) -- introduced a bill to congress that would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, defying international stances on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict resting on a two-state solution.

If implemented, the bill would give legitimacy to Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem since 1967, disregard Palestinian claims to the city, and possibly terminate a longstanding White House policy to perpetually defer a 1995 Congressional decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy there.

While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and with some having advocated for its complete annexation.

A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

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