World

Congress Might Cut UN Funding Over Israel Controversy

| by Robert Fowler

Following the United Nations Security Council's surprise vote condemning the Israeli settlements along the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, a group of U.S. congressmen is aiming to take measures to strip American funding to the global organization.

On Dec. 23, the Security Council voted unanimously to designate Israeli settlements in what the global community disputes as Palestinian land to be illegal according to international law. With the support of 14 countries and an abstention from the Obama administration, the move has enraged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has U.S. lawmakers from both parties calling for retaliation.

"We will make a very strong attempt to do something immediately," one anonymous senior GOP Senate aide told The Washington Post. "It is a real moment to reexamine the relationship with the United Nations and what it really does."

The effort is being spearheaded by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. All three reportedly believe that proposed legislation to punish the U.N. will be supported by both Senate Majority Leader Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Minority Leader Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

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On Dec. 25, Graham asserted that the Security Council's resolution had to be met with consequences from Congress.

"I anticipate this vote will create a backlash in Congress against the United Nations," Graham told CNN. "The organization is increasingly viewed as anti-Semitic and seems to have lost all sense of proportionality."

The South Carolina senator said that he supported the foreign aid that the U.N. provided to international allies, but added: "I can't support funding a body that singles out the only democracy in the Middle East who shares our values."

The U.S. currently provides 22 percent of the U.N. budget. American funding to the organization was ratified through treaties, making the majority of payments difficult for lawmakers to undo. Congress would have to approve legislation that would ease the obligations that currently bind the U.S. to the U.N. if lawmakers hope to dramatically reduce funding.

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On Dec. 28, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Obama administration's decision to abstain from the Security Council vote during his farewell address to the State Department.

"We did not take this decision lightly … we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution," Kerry said, according to Fox News.

In what could be viewed as a knock against Netanyahu, Kerry added: "Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect."

GOP lawmakers reportedly intend to introduce legislation to punish the U.N. before President Barack Obama leaves office, but President-elect Donald Trump has already signaled that he would support efforts to strip the organization of U.S. funding when he assumes office, The New York Times reports.

"The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time," Trump tweeted on Dec. 26. "So sad!"

Sources: CNNFox News, The New York Times, The Washington Post / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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