By: RAPHAEL AHREN, Times of Israel—
A senior United States lawmaker and presidential hopeful on Wednesday threatened a “violent pushback” against any country that would support a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for Palestinian statehood. He also warned that a possible UN report likening alleged crimes against children by Israel and Boko Haram was an “outrage that would not go unanswered.”
Speaking in Jerusalem, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also said he would work to suspend US funding to the UN in retaliation for such a resolution, and vowed there would be bipartisan opposition in Congress against UN action of this kind.
France has repeatedly announced its intention to propose a Security Council resolution that calls for the rapid creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is expected to present such a resolution in the coming days.
“If there’s an effort by any nation to have the Security Council define the terms of the peace process, there will be a violent backlash from the United States Congress in a bipartisan fashion,” Graham told reporters at a press conference.
“I am here to reinforce to our Israeli allies that there would be Republican and Democratic support to stop [such a resolution],” he said, referring to “the French effort or some other nation’s effort to take over the peace process.”
As the chair of the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Graham is “in charge of the money we provide” to the UN, he said. “If the United Nations through the Security Council adopted a position to define the terms of the peace process, then I would lead an effort in the Congress to suspend our funding.” The US contributes about a quarter of UN funding.
He similarly pledged a “violent pushback” against the Palestinians or any state trying to subject Israeli soldiers to war crimes trials in the International Criminal Court for defending the country.
In his remarks, Graham noted bitterly that the UN was weighing whether to release a report that singled out for criticism Israel’s treatment of Gazan children alongside the treatment of children by the Boko Haram jihadist group.
“There’s a report that may come out any day now where the United Nations is considering the State of Israel in the same category as Boko Haram when it comes to crimes against children,” he said. “If that ever happened, if the United Nations embraced a report putting the State of Israel in the same categories with terrorist organizations in terms of the way they treat innocent people, particularly children, that would be an outrage that would not go unanswered.”
Graham, known for his hawkish approach to foreign policy and his pro-Israel stance, is set announce his candidacy for president on Monday.
He said Wednesday he was an “internationalist, not an isolationist” and wants to be part of an international community that can govern the world and defeat radical Islam.
He would not tolerate any efforts to use the UN or the International Criminal Court against Israel, he stressed.
“I’m not going to ask the American taxpayer to fund an organization that’s going to be used in a way to marginalize one of our closest friends, the State of Israel,” he said.
Graham, who has been to Israel dozens of times, said he principally supports a two-state solution, as long as Israel’s survival was guaranteed. “The two-state solution in my view would allow the Palestinians to live in dignity, to have sovereignty over their internal affairs. But it would be constructed in such a fashion that Israel would never have to lose sleep about this new state being able to destroy the State of Israel.”
During his two-day trip to Israel, the senior senator from South Carolina met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Education Minister Naftali Bennett. US-born MK Michael Oren took Graham on a guided tour of the Knesset.