U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued to focus on Israel in his first days of his second term in the Senate as he teamed up with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Mary., on Wednesday.
Rubio and Cardin brought out a 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.” Almost a quarter of the Senate joined as co-sponsors including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Last month, the U.S. voted to abstain on a measure condemning Israel for launching settlements in disputed territory also claimed by the Palestinians. The UN resolution labels Israeli settlement efforts as “illegal.” The Obama administration has drawn heavy fire for refusing to veto that resolution.
“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 as he brought out the resolution. “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,” Cardin said. “Our Senate resolution sends the message that the U.S.-Israel partnership is ironclad. 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.”
Earlier in the week, Rubio unveiled a bill to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Rubio is not the only member of the Florida delegation focused on the issue. U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., part of the House leadership as senior deputy majority whip, has brought out a resolution condemning Obama for not vetoing the UN resolution.