Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) today led a bipartisan letter with 86 other Senators urging President Obama to continue the longstanding U.S. policy of vetoing any one-sided UN Security Council resolution offered at the United Nations that would ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a sustainable two-state solution.
“At a time of great challenges in the Middle East, we are disappointed that talks between Israelis and Palestinians remain stalled,” the Senators wrote. “The only way to resolve the conflicts between the two is through direct negotiations that lead to a sustainable two-state solution with a future state of Palestine living in peace and security with Israel. This outcome would provide Israel with greater security and strengthen regional stability. Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiating table and make the compromises necessary for peace.”
The U.S. has a longstanding policy of opposing, and if necessary vetoing these resolutions, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues. As President Obama prepares to attend his final UN General Assembly, the Senators called on him to maintain this longstanding policy, as he has in the past.
The letter led by Senators Gillibrand and Rounds is also signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ed Markey (D-MA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Boozman (R-AR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), John McCain (R-AZ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Gary Peters (D-MI), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Robert Casey (D-PA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Angus King (I-ME), John Thune (R-SD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC), Al Franken (D-MN), David Perdue (R-GA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), James Risch (R-ID), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tom Udall (D-NM), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chris Coons (D-DE), David Vitter (R-LA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), James Lankford (R-OK), Jack Reed (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Rob Portman (R-OH).
Below is the full text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President:
As you prepare to attend the United Nations General Assembly, we write to address the issue of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. At a time of great challenges in the Middle East, we are disappointed that talks between Israelis and Palestinians remain stalled. The only way to resolve the conflicts between the two is through direct negotiations that lead to a sustainable two-state solution with a future state of Palestine living in peace and security with Israel. This outcome would provide Israel with greater security and strengthen regional stability. We remain optimistic that, under the right circumstances, Israelis and Palestinians can successfully resume productive negotiations toward this goal.
At this delicate stage the international community should both provide hope to the parties and avoid taking action that would harm the prospects for meaningful progress. Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations (UN) risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiating table and make the compromises necessary for peace. The United States remains an indispensable trusted mediator between the parties, and we must continue to insist that neither we nor any other outsider substitute for the parties to the conflict.
Your administration has consistently upheld the longstanding U.S. policy of opposing – and if necessary vetoing – one-sided UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. As U.S. Ambassador to the UN, the Honorable Susan Rice summarized your Administration’s position well when she exercised America’s veto on a February 2011 resolution: “It is the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ conflict, and even the best-intentioned outsiders cannot resolve it for them. Therefore every potential action must be measured against one overriding standard: will it move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement? Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse.”
Mr. President, you also clearly stated in your September 2011 address to the General Assembly, “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians – not us –- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them…. Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied.”
We could not agree more with these statements. We urge you to continue longstanding U.S. policy and make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months. Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.