A new bipartisan move, led by Senators Rubio & Cardin, is underway in Congress to defend Israel against UN Resolution 2334. This is encouraging. Here’s the latest.

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There is good news to report as 2017 begins.

With Members of Congress back in Washington to begin a new legislative session, a major bipartisan effort is now underway in both chambers to counter U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, the anti-Israel measure President Obama shamefully refused to veto just before Hanukkah and Christmas.

I commend my friend, Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, and Sen. Ben Cardin, the Maryland Democrat, for leading this effort to defend Israel, America’s most faithful and loyal ally in the Middle East. Today, they introduced a Senate resolution with broad bipartisan support that strongly opposes the actions taken by the U.N. and the Obama administration and lays out a positive American agenda towards Israel and the peace process with the Palestinians going forward. In the House, a similar resolution has been introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY),  which I also commend.

President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have, to their credit, denounced UNSC Resolution 2334. If they move quickly to enact the Rubio-Cardin recommendations, these will be steps in the right direction.

We need a new way forward on U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. The Obama-Clinton-Kerry approach was a disaster.

Like most of my fellow Evangelicals, I want there to be a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. I support good faith efforts to bring healing and reconciliation between both sides and I am praying to that end. After all, in the Scriptures the Psalmist commands us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” What’s more, our Lord Jesus Christ instructed us, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Therefore, I believe there should be direct peace talks between both sides at the highest levels. The talks should be serious and constructive and hopefully lead to the end of the conflict and real protection of Israel’s rights and security needs balanced with real protection for Palestinian human rights and civil rights and security needs. Unfortunately, since 2009 the Palestinian leadership has consistently refused Israel’s oft-repeated offers for direct bilateral negotiations. They also brought the Hamas terror organization into their government and have supported two rocket wars against Israel.

This is no way to make peace. Nor is the UN’s attempt to force a solution on Israel. We must vigorously oppose any and all efforts by the U.N. and other international bodies to dictate terms to Israel, or unilaterally declare illegal Israel’s legitimate claim to Jerusalem, the Biblical and eternal capital of the Jewish people. We must also strongly oppose every effort by the UN and others to delegitimize Israel and isolate her through boycotts, sanctions and divestment (ie, the “BDS” movement). Such efforts are unfair, unjust, and counter-productive. They make peace more difficult to achieve, not easier.

All that said, let me be clear: strongly supporting Israel’s freedom and security against Radical Islamic terrorism and international anti-Semitism and injustice does NOT mean a person has to be against the Palestinian people. Christ commanded us to love our neighbors and our enemies. We can — and should — love the Palestinians, and want a better life for them, and pray for their welfare, and support serious efforts to improve their lives and defend their rights and freedoms against injustices of all kinds. Indeed, Christians outside the region can — and should — pray for the Palestinian people personally, and get to know personally our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ. We should work to understand their needs, and develop sincere friendships, stand with them against poverty and terror and injustice, and encourage them as they proclaim the Gospel to their people and shine the light of Christ in the darkness. The Scriptures are crystal clear: God loves the Jewish and Palestinian people dearly, and so must we.

Here’s the full text of the statement issued by Sen. Rubio, with a link to the full text of the Rubio-Cardin Senate resolution — I commend both to your attention:

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced a Senate resolution objecting to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, as well as all efforts that undermine direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a secure and peaceful settlement. They are joined in this effort by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dean Heller (R-NV), John McCain (R-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Todd Young (R-IN).

“Efforts to delegitimize Israel have been underway a long time at the United Nations and have now sadly been aided by the outgoing administration, but the time has come to turn back the tide and renew America’s commitment to the Jewish state,” said Rubio. “When it comes to the U.S.-Israel alliance, we believe that senators of both parties must stand firmly with Israel and condemn efforts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. This resolution expresses the Senate’s rejection of continued anti-Israel efforts at the United Nations, reiterates our commitment to Israel, and urges the incoming administration to work with Congress on this issue.”

“I am deeply disappointed that the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which is a one-sided text that makes direct negotiations for a two-state solution more challenging.  Our Senate Resolution sends the message that the U.S.-Israel partnership is ironclad,” said Cardin.  “Going forward, Congress will take action against efforts at the UN or beyond that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel.  I hope that in 2017 we can look at policies and actions that facilitate resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and I stand ready to support productive efforts.”

“The decision taken by the President to abstain from this vote–to fail to act on behalf of an ally represents a failure of leadership and judgment. It is highly regrettable that one of President Obama’s last actions in office was again to abandon our ally Israel,” said McConnell. “As this resolution notes, the United Nations is not the appropriate venue for dictating parameters for a two state solution, this can only come from direct negotiations between the parties.”

“Since the days of ‘Zionism is racism,’ the U.N. has been a fervently anti-Israel body and, unfortunately, that bias has never diminished. Knowing this, past administrations – both Democrat and Republican – have protected Israel from the vagaries of this biased institution,” said Schumer. “Unfortunately, by abstaining on United Nations Resolutions 2334, this administration has not followed in that path. This Senate resolution reaffirms that peace must come through direct negotiations in order to achieve a sustainable two-state solution.”

A PDF of the resolution is available here. The resolution:

  • Expresses grave objection to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016);
  • Calls for United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to be repealed or fundamentally altered so that it is no longer one-sided and allows all final status issues toward a two-state solution to be resolved through direct bilateral negotiations between the parties;
  • Rejects efforts by outside bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, to impose solutions from the outside that set back the cause of peace;
  • Demands that the United States ensure that no action is taken at the Paris Conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict scheduled for January 15, 2017, that imposes an agreement or parameters on the parties;
  • Notes that granting membership and statehood standing to the Palestinians at the United Nations, its specialized agencies, and other international institutions outside of the context of a bilateral peace agreement with Israel would cause severe harm to the peace process, and would likely trigger the implementation of penalties under sections 7036 and 7041(j) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (division K of Public Law 114–113);
  • Rejects any efforts by the United Nations, United Nations agencies, United Nations member states, and other international organizations to use United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to further isolate Israel through economic or other boycotts or any other measures, and urges the United States Government to take action where needed to counter any attempts to use United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to further isolate Israel;
  • Urges the current presidential administration and all future presidential administrations to uphold the practice of vetoing all United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to insert the Council into the peace process, recognize unilateral Palestinian actions including declaration of a Palestinian state, or dictate terms and a timeline for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  • Reaffirms that it is the policy of the United States to continue to seek a sustainable, just, and secure two-state solution to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians; and
  • Urges the incoming Administration to work with Congress to create conditions that facilitate the resumption of direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of achieving a sustainable agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as an American citizen and an author. They do not reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

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