Former high-ranking US officials have called on President Barack Obama to avoid vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank.
The officials, including a former US secretary of defense, a number of former assistant secretaries of state and ambassadors, wrote a letter to Obama, asking him to instruct US envoys to the world body to "vote yes" on the resolution, Ha’aretz reported on Saturday.
"The time has come for a clear signal from the United States to the parties and to the broader international community that the United States can and will approach the conflict with the objectivity, consistency and respect for international law required if it is to play a constructive role in the conflict’s resolution," the letter urged.
The signatories said they were well aware that the Security Council resolution would not resolve the issue of settlements, but said the council was "an appropriate venue for addressing these issues."
They also reminded Obama of his 2009 speech in Cairo where he said the US does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements and urged Israel to stop its construction activity.
"If the proposed resolution is consistent with existing and established US policies, then deploying a veto would severely undermine US credibility and interests, placing us firmly outside of the international consensus, and further diminishing our ability to mediate this conflict," the officials warned.
The draft resolution — which has nearly 120 co-sponsors from among Arab and other non-aligned nations — is not likely to be put to a vote in the 15-nation council in the near future due to a possible US veto.
The draft says that "Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East [al-Quds] Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace."
Israel’s persistent construction in the occupied West Bank is seen as the main bone of contention between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and is blamed for derailing several rounds of talks between the two sides.