Globe Briefs January 13

Globe Briefs January 13

House overwhelmingly approves resolution slamming UN and Obama

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly agreed to condemn a U.N. Security Council anti-settlements resolution and the Obama administration for allowing it through.

The resolution, which passed Thursday evening, Jan. 5, by a vote of 342-80, said the Security Council vote last month “undermined the long-standing position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues.”

The U.S. abstained, refraining from exercising its veto and allowing the Security Council resolution to pass 14-0. U.S. officials said then that they could not endorse the resolution because of the inherent anti-Israel bias of the United Nations, but did not want to veto it because they agreed with its premise that Israeli settlement construction was illegal and an obstruction to advancing peace.

Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the committee’s senior Democrat, sponsored the measure.

Engel had joined another Democrat, Rep. David Price of North Carolina, in seeking to amend the resolution. Price’s altered text emphasized advancing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although it also endorsed a policy of vetoing unfair Security Council resolutions. It refrained from criticizing the Obama administration. The House Rules Committee on Wednesday rejected Price’s amendment.

Royce in debate during the vote noted his resolution also favored the two-state solution, and said he would work with Price to advance that policy this congressional session. But he said it was important in the near term to warn President Barack Obama in his final days in office not to take any further dramatic Israel-related actions, and opposed removing language critical of the Obama administration. Engel urged other Democrats to back the unamended resolution, while Price urged lawmakers to oppose it.

In the end, 109 Democrats backed the resolution and 76 opposed it. Just four Republicans opposed the resolution; a small contingent of Republicans led by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) opposed including language favoring two states.

Three out of four local members of Congress voted in favor of the resolution: Tim Murphy (R-District 18); Mike Kelly (R-District 3); and Keith Rothfus (R-District 12). Mike Doyle (D-District 14) voted against it.

Italian Jews, IsraAID bring help to homeless earthquake victims

Italian Jews joined the IsraAID nonprofit organization in bringing help to people in central Italy who remain homeless after earthquakes last summer and fall.

A delegation from the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, or UCEI, and IsraAID visited the earthquake zone in recent days and delivered thermal blankets, jackets, shoes, portable heaters and other material, the UCEI reported.

A series of powerful quakes in late August and October near the towns of Amatrice and Norcia killed nearly 300 people and left thousands homeless.

In cooperation with Italian civil protection, the Italian military and other organizations, IsraAID has been carrying out relief work in the affected zone since September with the logistical support of the UCEI, which also has been collecting funds and material since the quake hit.

IsraAID has also brought a team of psychologists trained in dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jordanian official: Moving USEmbassy to Jerusalem ‘catastrophic’

Jordan’s government spokesman warned of “catastrophic” repercussions if President-elect Donald Trump moves the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as he indicated he would.

Such a move could affect relations between the United States and regional allies, including Jordan, Information Minister Mohammed Momani told The Associated Press last week, addressing the issue publicly for the first time.

Momani said that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv “will have catastrophic implications on several levels, including the regional situation.” He said countries in the region would likely “think about different things and steps they should take in order to stop this from happening.”

An embassy move would be a “red line” for Jordan, would “inflame the Islamic and Arab streets” and serve as a “gift to extremists,” Momani said, adding that Jordan would use all possible political and diplomatic means in a bid to prevent such a decision.

Jordan, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, is the custodian of Islam’s third holiest shrine, the Al-Aqsa mosque, in eastern Jerusalem. Israel captured eastern Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and annexed it to its capital. The Palestinians want to establish the capital of a future state in Jerusalem.

Much of the world has not recognized Israel’s annexation of eastern Jerusalem and most countries, including the United States, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Trump said during the presidential campaign that he intended to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Last month, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was quoted as saying that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a “very big priority” for the president-elect.

Trump’s choice for U.S. ambassador in Israel, David Friedman, has said he looks forward to working from Jerusalem.