On Thursday, US President Barack Obama received a letter signed by more than 90 percent of the House of Representatives asking him to veto any UN actions against Israel. Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced on Friday that 394 members of the 435-member House signed the letter.
The letter supported a two-state solution, “a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition”.
Calling for a “negotiated resolution” and opposition to “Palestinian efforts to seek a statehood status in international bodies”, it asked for the president to “veto one-sided UN Security Council resolutions”.
The letter also called for condemnation of Hamas, referring to it as a terror group.
The letter comes amid concerns that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has a majority of support in the UN Security Council to pass an anti-settlement resolution, making settlements illegal. The Arab countries are discussing Abbas’ resolution but it is unknown when Abbas intends to present it to the UN.
The US vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council in 2011. UN Security Council resolutions are considered legally binding in international law and passage of the resolution would put pressure on Israel to comply.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said in an interview last week that he had reason to believe that President Obama would support the Palestinian resolution, which denounces the “violence and terrorism of the settlers”.
“There are indications that President Barack Obama may try to put a basis for a new era regarding the Palestinian-Israeli issue before leaving the White House after his achievements in Iran and Cuba,” Malki said. “Thus the US administration may surprise Israel by voting in favor of a Palestinian resolution or at least not to use the veto against it.”
The US State Department was non-committal. When asked about the Palestinian proposal, Spokesman Mark Toner said they are, “at a very early stage”.
Israel faces another political threat of an internationally enforced two-state solution. Earlier this year, France called for an international conference in the summer to revive negotiations between Israel and the PA. Originally, they proposed recognizing a Palestinian state if talks failed. This would remove any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate. Later, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the recognition would not be automatic. Abbas met with French President Francois Hollande last Friday.