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- As Delivered -

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks in the House of Representatives supporting legislation (H.Res.11) objecting to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 as an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace:

“I want to start by thanking our chairman, Ed Royce, who authored this resolution.  I’m proud to be the lead Democratic cosponsor and glad to say that more than 30 Democrats, representing a broad cross section of our party, have signed on as cosponsors of this bipartisan resolution.

“Ed Royce and I have worked together for the past four years and we believe that foreign policy should be bipartisan, and that partisanship should stop at the water’s edge.  And frankly, this is what we’re doing today.  We are condemning what happened because we think it’s unfair and unjust.

“I want to also mention that I joined with my friend from North Carolina, Mr. Price, in authoring an amendment to this resolution that wasn’t accepted, which emphasizes a two-state solution.  I want to thank Mr. Price for his hard work on that approach, and I support it.  We talk in this resolution about a two-state solution as well.

“Mr. Speaker, throughout its entire history, the state of Israel has never gotten a fair shake from the United Nations.  Year after year after year, member states manipulate the UN to bully our ally Israel, to pile on with one-sided resolutions placing all of the blame for the ongoing conflict on Israel.

“We saw a resolution like this come before the Security Council a few weeks ago, and today the House of Representatives will go on record saying that that UN resolution is wrong, plain and simple.  And frankly we should not have voted for that.

“The Security Council resolution is highly critical of Israel, yet asks nothing directly of the Palestinians.  That’s biased, that’s unfair, that’s not balanced and, again, we should have opposed it.  We should have vetoed it.

“And the language about Jerusalem is not new, but it remains deeply offensive to Jews whose holiest site lies on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem.  The Kotel, the holy Western Wall, is simply not occupied territory, and it’s offensive to hear that.

“So in the measure the House is considering today, we repudiate this flawed Security Council resolution.  And at the same time, we will say, once again, that we support a two-state solution, that the only way to reach that goal is through direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that this shameful Security Council resolution put that goal further out of reach. 

“Mr. Speaker, the international community faces a long list of pressing issues: mass killings in South Sudan, a crisis in Yemen, a humanitarian disaster in Syria, Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.  Yet, rather than deal with those critical problems, the member states of the UN have chosen instead to use the international body to embarrass Israel.  It’s outrageous, and this House resolution that I’m cosponsoring with Mr. Royce rightfully says that it’s outrageous.

“Now, I think it was a mistake for the current Administration to abstain on this vote in the UN.  I’ve been very clear about that.  But I want to be fair.  Before anyone turns this debate into another attack on President Obama, we should be aware of the history of this issue. 

“This is the first time in eight years the Obama Administration has allowed a resolution opposed by Israel to go forward. The George Bush Administration allowed it to happen six times; the Clinton Administration, three times; the first Bush Administration, six times; and the Reagan Administration, 10 times, including voting for one ‘strongly condemn[ing] Israel for its premeditated and unprecedented act of aggression’—that’s a quote—when it wisely destroyed Iraq’s nuclear weapons reactor in 1981.

“But regardless of that, history doesn’t justify this latest abstention.  My mother used to say two wrongs don’t make a right, and she was right.  It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. I think allowing governments to bully Israel in the UN is a mistake no matter who’s in power.

“Instead, let’s focus on what we should be doing when it comes to advancing the two state solution.  This resolution calls for us to get back to the policy that many of us support: one, standing with Israel in the United Nations; two, stopping one-sided resolutions; three, supporting direct negotiations as the only way to move toward a two-state solution.

“This resolution says all that.  Everyone in this Congress should be voting for it, because it’s balanced.  I’m pleased to support this resolution, and I urge all members to do the same, and I reserve the balance of my time.”