Speeches

Mr. President, thank you. Though this administration is short on time and there will be the inauguration of a new president now is just weeks, the Obama administration isn’t coming to a quiet end. From issuing controversial regulations, to transferring unprecedented numbers of detainees from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the outgoing administration has repeatedly acted in direct opposition to the bipartisan will of Congress and to the values of the American people.

The clearest example of this is the recent American actions at the United Nations Security Council performed at the expense of Israel, an American ally and strategic partner in the Middle East.

This December, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said: “Decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel. In many cases, instead of helping the Palestinian issue, this reality has foiled the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively.”

The UN’s anti-Israel bias was evident on December the 23rd when the Security Council sought to pass a resolution targeting Israel. American representatives abstained from voting on the deliberately anti-Israel resolution. The refusal to defend Israel is a departure from longstanding bipartisan policy of the United States, and in fact, a departure from the standards of the Obama Administration.

Just days later, this decision – this decision to abstain – was aggravated by comments made by Secretary of State Kerry. In a speech that sought to defend the Obama Administration’s diplomacy, the Secretary’s one-sided lecture further criticized Israel.

With so many grave and immediate foreign policy challenges concurrently facing the Obama Administration, facing our country, the secretary’s decision to devote his final days at the State Department to criticism of Israel is difficult to understand.

The president’s party has suffered staggering electoral defeats during his time in office. Much of that can be attributed to the championing policies at odds with much of his own party and the American people at large. 

This case is no different. The Obama Administration’s decision defies the bipartisan directives of 88 members of this Senate who wrote to the president on this issue in September of 2016.

Fortunately, today marks the first day of the 115th Congress. On January 20, we will inaugurate a new president. We will have to work overtime to correct the direction of these American policies.

And I’m committed to working with the incoming administration, with both Republican and Democrat members of Congress, to make certain that the United States remains appropriately supportive of Israel. We must prevent the United Nations from being further used as a forum for unjust persecution of that country.

To this effort, I am introducing a resolution that recognizes the importance of Israel as a strategic ally, reiterates that Congress’ bipartisan support for Israel continues, and objects to the Obama Administration’s decisions and harmful public commentary related to the December 23rd UN Security Council vote.

The opening of the 115th Congress and the inauguration of a new president creates opportunities to improve our relations. The relationship between the United States and Israel. America’s alliance with Israel is critical to combatting the threats [to] peace in the Middle East and our own national security.

It is my hope that we can seize the opportunity to better stand by our ally and continue to encourage peace and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. I believe that this resolution is an important step in repairing the relations that the Obama Administration has unnecessarily strained, and I hope to have the opportunity to vote on this measure in the Senate in the coming weeks.