President Obama’s former Middle East envoy said Tuesday that the United States should have vetoed the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land rather than abstaining from the vote and letting it pass.
George Mitchell told MSNBC that while Obama’s policy is sound, he should have deferred the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank to the next president, the Daily Mail reports.
“I do think, if I might make a few other points on this issue, that President Obama would have been wise to veto this resolution,” George Mitchell said in an interview on MSNBC. “Not because of the policy implications but because of the timing and the circumstance that it leads to with respect to trying to get the parties together.”
Mitchell said Obama should have postponed the vote if possible, and if not, vetoed it.
He did, however, defend Obama’s decision to side with the Palestinians, saying that every administration in recent history has condemned Israeli settlement building.
“Every American president, since the beginning of settlements 50 years ago, from Johnson and Nixon, down through Bush and Obama, has opposed Israel’s policy on settlements,” he said.
Mitchell claimed that statements made in the news media that Obama failed to “protect Israel” are “completely false.”
“So I think much is being made of it that is false,” Mitchell said, “but it would have been wise, I think, to defer this if possible and, if not, to veto it.”
Secretary of State John Kerry defended Obama’s decision Wednesday, saying that the U.S. did not oppose the resolution because it would not be expected for any nation “to vote against its own policies.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already accused the Obama administration of abandoning the veto and orchestrating the UN resolution declaring Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory a criminal act.
“From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed,” he said to ambassadors from 10 of the countries who voted for the resolution, according to NPR.