The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan measure objecting to last month’s anti-Israel United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 on Thursday, garnering 342-80 votes in favor of House Resolution 11.
HR 11 was introduced and co-authored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and the committee’s top Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). It states UN Res 2334 “undermines the prospect for Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct negotiations” and should be “repealed or fundamentally altered.”
Despite strong bipartisan support for the measure, at least 75 Democrats and four Republicans voted against it; many of the opposing Democrats accused Republicans of introducing HR 11 to attack Obama unfairly in the last two weeks of his presidency.
“Our government abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said upon taking the floor. “It is time to repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the U.N.”
In 2015, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu addressed Congress, 56 Democrats (8 Senators, 47 Representatives) boycotted his speech, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry found other places to be, and President Obama said he did not watch.
Among Democrats to vote “nay” on HR 11 were Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. David Price (D-NC). Price said the resolution was created “solely to embarrass the outgoing Obama administration” and called it “reckless and divisive.” As such, he said, “I rise in opposition to House Resolution 11.”
Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) appeared to take a jab at Secretary of State John Kerry in stating that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic. Kerry had previously issued a scathing dissent against the Jewish state and democracy in the Middle East by stating, “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both.”
Most advocated for a two-state solution — the default and suggested model for achieving peace. However, Palestinians have rejected that possibility time and again. This week, Palestinian leadership once again rejected Kerry’s two-state solution because they refuse to recognize a Jewish state.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) reminded those gathered on the House floor that President Barack Obama lit Hanukkah candles at the White House the day before U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Powers decided to break with the U.S. tradition of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions and choosing, instead, to abstain from voting against UN Res 2334.
It passed with the support of 14 members of the Security Council. “It’s an insult this resolution was passed just one day before the start of Hanukkah,” Zeldin said.
Royce referred to it as a “pay to slay scheme” and said the UN’s resolution “puts an enduring peace further out of reach.” He added, “the Obama administration let this happen” and said that UN Res 2334 “puts wind in the sails of the shameful boycott, divestment and sanctions policy.”
While, in theory, HR 11 is a strong verbal condemnation of the UN’s anti-Israel resolution, it does nothing to punish the UN for its repeated attacks on Israel in practice. The bill, for example, does not call for defunding the UN and appears, instead, to be more symbolic than anything else.
Ilaena Ros-Lethnin (R-FL) said the “UN has utterly failed to uphold its mandate.” Ros-Lethnin, who is of Cuban descent, pointed to the hypocrisy inherent in the UN and its anti-Israel resolution by noting that it allows for “the worst offenders of human rights like Cuba, Venezuela and China to stand in judgement of human rights.”
She called UN Res 2334 “a pathetic joke… Israel is the only region in Middle East where human rights are protected.”
The Israel Project (TIP) — a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that provides factual information about Israel and the Middle East to the press — issued a statement applauding HR 11 and blasting the anti-Israel assault at the UN.
“This hateful UN resolution severs the Jewish links to Jerusalem’s holiest places and it creates dramatic obstacles on the path to peace and a two-state solution – both longstanding cornerstones of American and international policy,” said Josh Block, President and CEO of TIP.
A similar bipartisan measure against UN Res 2334 was introduced in the Senate by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). It has the support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have also introduced legislation that would make the White House recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital — which the Obama administration has refused to do — and move the United States embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz