On December 23 the United States abstained from voting and allowed the passage of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution demanding Israel end all settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “[The U.S.] could not, in good conscience, stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace,” in a speech on December 28.
Now Congress is advancing legislation that misrepresents longstanding U.S. policy and mischaracterizes the U.S. abstention in the UNSC. This legislation neglects to acknowledge the longstanding perspective of both the United States government and the international community that Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under international law.
Middle East analyst Lara Friedman writes that this legislation “reflects the false/mistaken argument that the U.S. has had a longstanding policy of preventing passage of resolutions in the Security Council critical of Israel. The truth is that the opposite is true: every U.S. president since 1967 has abstained on or voted in favor of multiple resolutions critical of Israel, including resolutions to which Israel strenuously objected, when those resolutions were consistent with U.S. policy.” You can review the history of U.S. President’s statements on settlements here on CMEP’s website.