The major failure yesterday at the United Nations wasn't that the latest Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not garner the nine votes necessary to pass (even without an American veto). It was the failure of the United States and the international community to take a positive step toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict diplomatically by crafting a resolution that could have gained broad international consensus.
Strong American and international action to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are critical because Israel's Jewish and democratic nature is at risk so long as there is no Palestinian state alongside Israel.
J Street did not take a position on the version of the resolution that came to a vote. Alternative drafts did a better job of balancing Israeli and Palestinian concerns, particularly around security. In the weeks leading to the vote, we urged the US to work with allies to bring to the Council a version consistent with American policy and with internationally accepted parameters on which a two-state solution would be achieved. We regret that this did not occur.
We strongly believe that the United States can and must play a more active role in ending the conflict – and not be content simply with voting against a resolution it cannot support. The US could exercise meaningful leadership by laying out parameters for a peace agreement with the broad support of other international actors or by drafting a Security Council resolution it can support on which an invitation to serious negotiations could then be based.
Looking ahead, we urge all parties to refrain from reacting to yesterday's vote in ways that exacerbate the situation. In particular, we urge the US Congress not to cut aid as a misguided form of retaliation, and we implore the Israeli authorities to refrain from taking the opportunity to announce new settlement expansion. The Palestinian approach to the UN emanates from legitimate frustration with 47 years of occupation and settlement activity that is eating away at the possibility of a two-state solution. We implore the Palestinians as well not to respond to yesterday's failure by turning to the International Criminal Court, a step that could set off a spiral of counterproductive actions and still leave them no closer to freedom and self-determination.