Explanation of Vote on the annual Israeli-Palestinian resolutions

Samantha Sutton
Political Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 16, 2018



The United States continues to oppose the annual submission of a disproportionate number of unfair resolutions biased against Israel. As in the past, this one-sided approach damages the prospects for peace by undermining trust between the parties and failing to create the kind of positive international environment critical to achieving peace.

We are disappointed that, despite support for reform, member states continue to single out Israel with these resolutions. As the United States has repeatedly made clear, this dynamic is unacceptable. Again, we see resolutions that are quick to condemn all manner of Israeli actions, but say almost nothing about terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. This is particularly acute now, when we’re in the midst of some of the most aggressive rocket attacks into Israeli civilian territory since 2014. We see Israel blamed for the situation in Gaza, while none of these resolutions even mentions the word “Hamas.” It is unacceptable that the United Nations – an institution founded upon the idea that all nations should be treated equally – should be so often used by member states to treat one state in particular, Israel, unequally.

And so the United States will once again vote against these one-sided resolutions and encourages other nations to do so. This year, we will also be shifting our vote from abstention to no on the resolutions Assistance to Palestine Refugees and The Occupied Syrian Golan.

On August 31, the U.S. government determined that we would no longer contribute to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). As we made clear, beyond the budget gap itself and failure to mobilize adequate and appropriate burden sharing, the fundamental model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years are simply unsustainable. The United States has already started to intensify dialogue with the United Nations, host governments, and international stakeholders about new models and new approaches, which may include direct bilateral assistance from the United States and other partners, that can provide the Palestinian people with a more durable and dependable path towards a brighter future.

Regarding the resolution The Occupied Syrian Golan, the repeated introduction of a resolution that is aimed at Israel, while the Syrian regime continues to slaughter its own citizens by the tens of thousands, is absurd. The UN should be focused on issues of genuine urgency, such as the conflict in Syria and its impact on the residents of the Golan Heights, rather than employing tired rhetoric and grandstanding against Israel. As Ambassador Haley said, “The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights. If this resolution ever made sense, it surely does not today.”

While the U.S. position on the status of the Golan Heights has not changed, it is clear that the annual passage of this resolution year after year by the Fourth Committee has brought us no closer to a negotiated solution. This resolution does nothing to address the increasing militarization of the Golan and the serious threats that confront Israel from Iran and Hezbollah’s presence in the area. The fact that this resolution is sponsored, among others, by a Syrian regime responsible for grievous war crimes in this very region underscores the lack of serious intent behind this resolution, and we will vote against it.

The United States remains firmly and consistently committed to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. Resolutions like those passed here today only distract from this process. One-sided resolutions do not help advance peace. The cause of peace will be served when the bias of the United Nations against Israel ends.

The United States has consistently opposed every effort to delegitimize Israel or undermine its security at the United Nations and we will continue to do so with vigor. We hope other Members join us by voting “no” on these resolutions.