Hanson, WCC criticize U.S. veto of UN resolution on Israeli settlements

February 23, 2011

Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America said he was "dismayed" that the United States vetoed a UN
Security Council resolution that would have condemned the illegal
Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

Hanson and 12 other
leaders of Christian churches and organizations had written to President
Obama urging his administration to support the UN resolution days
before the UN vote February 18. Fourteen other Security Council mem­bers
voted in favor of the resolution, which was cosponsored by 130
countries.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the United States
agrees with the rest of the council "about the folly and illegitimacy of
continued Israeli settlement activity." But she said, as reported by
Associated Press, the U.S. believes "it is unwise" for the UN's council
to attempt to resolve key issues between the Israelis and Palestinians.

In
his statement shortly after the UN voted, Hanson said, "I am now
concerned that this action will increase a despondent mood about the
future of such talks and will possibly strengthen extremist voices in
the region." Pales­tinians have said they will not resume negotiations
until Israel halts settlement building in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem.

The World Council of Churches Central Committee added
on February 21 its "deep concern and disappointment" at the U.S. veto
during a meeting in Geneva of the WCC's main governing body. The Central
Committee called the veto "a deeply regrettable mistake."

The
U.S. veto, the WCC said, "contradicts the statement" made by Obama in
Cairo last June that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy
of continued Israeli settlements."

John Jillions, a U.S. priest in
the Or­thodox Church in America, opposed the WCC statement. "There is
no reference in the text [as to] why the U.S. voted against the [UN]
resolution," he said, "so it is unbalanced and makes me uneasy."