AMP applauds historic abstention in UN Security Council; calls for an end to US aid to Israel

December 24, 2016

The American Muslims for Palestine, a national education organization, thanks the Obama administration on its historic decision to abstain from voting on the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity. The landmark resolution was presented Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump intervened and pressured Egypt to withdraw its original draft on Thursday. The abstention was the first time since 1979 that the US did not veto a resolution critical of Israel.

While AMP welcomes this gesture we recognize it comes too late in Mr. Obama’s presidency to achieve any meaningful impact. AMP calls for an end to US aid to Israel as its policies are in continual violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Conventions.

It has been a long-held tradition for American Presidents to veto any resolution critical of Israel in the Security Council, and Friday's abstention broke with that tradition and sided with justice and equality instead. "It is because this resolution reflects the facts on the ground and is consistent with U.S. policy across Republican and Democratic administrations ... that the United States did not veto it," Reuters quoted U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power as saying. 

At the nascence of his presidency, in 2009, President Obama gave a major speech at the University of Cairo directed to the Arab world. In it he said, “America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” When discussing Israeli settler activity he declared, “This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

However, since President Obama has taken office Israeli settlement activity has only expanded. More than 12,000 new settlements have been started since the beginning of Obama's presidency through As of June 30, 2016. By abstaining from the UN vote, President Obama made it clear that this illegal activity was unacceptable to the United States. The resolution also calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians.

Friday's resolution vote was made more urgent by Israeli moves to retroactively legalize outposts built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank. It nearly did not happen after Trump spoke with Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi and then unleashed a full-on media attack, using email, Twitter, and Facebook pressuring President Obama to veto this resolution. Trump’s media deluge started just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted at President Obama’s urging him to veto as well.

There is less than one month before Donald Trump is inaugurated. AMP reiterates its condemnation of David Friedman's nomination as US ambassador to Israel because of his pro-Israel bias and support of settlement expansion. And AMP reasserts that Trump’s plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv will weaken the U.S. position in the international community and will threaten our national security.