Trump is getting ready to take on the UN full throttle! This is what might happen. What are your thoughts?
By Josh Rogin
Even before Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, Congress is planning to escalate the clash over the U.N. Security Council’s anti-Israel resolution into a full-on conflict between the United States and the United Nations. If Trump embraces the strategy — and all signals indicate he will — the battle could become the Trump administration’s first confrontation with a major international organization, with consequential but largely unpredictable results.
Immediately after the Obama administration abstained Friday from a vote to condemn Israeli settlements as illegal, which passed the Security Council by a vote of 14 to zero, Republicans and Democrats alike criticized both the United Nations and the U.S. government for allowing what Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) called “a one-sided, biased resolution.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee for the State Department and foreign operations, pledged to lead an effort to withhold the U.S. funding that makes up 22 percent of the U.N.’s annual operating budget.
“The U.N. has made it impossible for us to continue with business as usual,” Graham told me right after the vote. “Almost every Republican will feel like this is a betrayal of Israel and the only response that we have is the power of purse.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, never shy about working with Republicans against the Obama administration, told Graham: “Please stand with us, it’s time to take the gloves off,” according to Graham.
In the days since the vote, three Republican senators and their staffs have been working up options behind the scenes for how to convert their threat into action: Graham, Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.). They believe they will have support for quick Senate action from both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a strong supporter of Israel.
There are several options under consideration, two senior Senate aides working on the issue told me. Some are considered “micro” options, such as passing a resolution that would bar any funding that might go to implementing the anti-settlement resolution. Other options include withdrawing the United States from U.N. organizations such as UNESCO or passing legislation to protect settlers who are American citizens and might be vulnerable to consequences of the resolution.