Today, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally asked that Palestine become a full member of the United Nations despite staunch opposition from Israel and the U.S. On cue, Republicans are attacking the U.N. for even considering such a request. Joining House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) reissued his call to pass his bill — the Solidarity with Israel Act — which would eliminate U.S. Funding for the U.N. if the Security Council or the General Assembly changes Palestine’s current status, and thus “votes to harm our trusted ally,” he said.
But in a somewhat surprising turn, former Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed such measures. When Pajamas Media asked whether he agreed that defunding the U.N. was warranted in light of the Palestinian Authority’s effort, Cheney said “I don’t think that’s necessarily the right response”:
CHENEY: I’ve never been a great fan of the United Nations over the years…I’ve felt that they didn’t exercise they’re authority they way they might. But in terms of the basic notion that we are going to defund the U.N., I haven’t given it any thought. People get severely agitated about what’s going on at the United Nations, they used to up in Congress….There are a lot of Americans who look askance at the United Nations and probably would in a heart beat vote for defunding. I don’t think that’s necessarily the right response here. We’ll see what happens.
There’s good reason to question the move. As Center for American Progress’s Sarah Margon notes, such bills set “a dramatic precedent that far exceeds previous anti-U.N. initiatives.” Not only would it force the U.N. to adopt a voluntary budget model, it would “end funding for Palestinian refugees, restrict the use of U.S. funds to the goals outlined by Congress, and stop U.S. contributions to U.N. peacekeeping operations” until reforms are made.
What’s more, these measures ignore the U.N’s recent successes in “galvanizing international action” that aligns with U.S. interests — be it in Libya, Syria, or Iran. Along with providing a more cost effective way to face and coordinate on global challenges, Margonn also notes that U.N. participation “enhance[s] our ability to promote our agenda by leveraging key actors.”
Nonetheless, right-wing conservatives seem wedded to their dogmatic campaign against the U.N. As GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich summed up last night, any U.N. action that may work against U.S. interests sparks their question, “Why are you giving them anything?”