NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The United States’ policy on Israel was front and center at the United Nations on Friday, with a showdown between the president and president-elect.
There was pressure from the president-elect and lobbying from Israel, but in the end, the United States broke a longstanding tradition and refused to veto a resolution demanding Israel to stop settlement activity on Palestinian land seized in the 1967 war, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
When the vote came in, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power raised her hand to abstain, marking an extraordinary break by the Obama administration.
The president long has criticized Israeli settling building as an obstacle to peace, but has never failed to veto a U.N. resolution condemning Israel until now.
“The United States has been sending the message that the settlements must stop, privately and publicly, for nearly five decades,” Power said.
She justified the vote with a 1982 quote from President Ronald Reagan.
“Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel,” Power said.
Before the vote, president-elect Trump made unprecedented efforts to stop it. At the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump asked the resolution sponsor, Egypt, to delay a vote, and Egypt did. But then another security council representative forced the resolution to the floor and it passed with only the U.S. abstaining.
Trump tweeted his reaction:
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) also tweeted, “Obama-Kerry foreign policy has gone from naive and foolish to flat out reckless. With friends like these, Israel doesn’t need any enemies.”
Many New York Democrats broke with the president on the issue.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey called the vote “a stain on the United States’ long and consistent record of defending Israel against one-sided U.N. Security Council resolutions. I am profoundly disappointed.”
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. called the resolution “an evil decree”and suggested Israel will ignore it.
The resolution also condemned Palestinian incitement to terrorism and urged both sides to resume peace negotiations.