The deeply divided Democrats and Republicans have rallied behind US President-elect Donald Trump in the House of Representatives to denounce the UN for a Security Council resolution condemning Israel for building settlements on the occupied territories….writes Arul Louis
The House resolution passed on Thursday was also a rebuke to President Barack Obama who refused to have the UN resolution vetoed. The resolution was adopted 342 to 80, with 109 Democrats rebelling against their president to back it.
The Senate was also expected to pass a similar resolution, serving another warning to the world body from its biggest contributor.
The resolution also demanded that the UN rescind the resolution adopted by the Security council on December 23 with US abstaining and the other 14 members voting for it.
Behind the House measure is a threat from the UN’s largest funder that it could start cutting its payments to the world body. The US contributes 22 percent of the general UN budget and 28.6 per cent of the funds for peacekeeping operations.
Before the vote, Trump had asked the Obama administration to veto the resolution. The US has traditionally blocked resolutions critical of its closes ally Israel.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the refusal to veto saying that settlement building in the territories captured by Israel during the 1967 war was an obstruction to the Middle East peace process as it hinged on a two-state solution that requires the creation of a Palestinian nation.
After the UN vote, Trump vowed in a tweet: “As to the UN, things will be different after January 20,” the day he takes over as president.
In a sentiment shared widely in the US regardless of party affiliations, House Speaker Paul Ryan lamented on Thursday: “This government, our government, abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most.”
In a jab at Obama, Ryan said the resolution would pave the way to “repair the damage done by this misguided hit job at the UN”.
Trump articulates the general scepticism in the US about the UN by mocking it as a “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time”.
Trump and the new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had a phone conversation, which a UN spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said was an “introductory call” that “went quite well”.
But Trump’s spokesperson Sean Spicer speaking to reporters after the meeting said that as the biggest contributor to the UN budget the Washington can demand some “reforms and changes” to make it more efficient.
Efforts had already begun in the Senate to cut UN finances. Senator Lindsey Graham, who heads the subcommittee that controls allocations for the UN had said that he would have the funds suspended or cut if the Security Council resolution passed.
Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain suggested this week that the US could start by reducing contributions meant for the UN Human rights Commission because many human rights violators are on it.
After the UNESCO admitted Palestine as a full member in 2011 over US objections, Congress cut off all funds for it, crippling many of its operations because it got more than a fifth of budget from the US. The Obama administration has not succeeded in getting the legislature to restore the funds