American diplomats have not explained why they don't want the UN
Security Council (SC) to adopt a statement by passing a
resolution. The Times of Israel writes:
A Security Council diplomat told ToI that the wording of the joint
statement from the top UN body was not what led to the US mission’s
decision to block the measure.
“They told us they could not support an expression from the council
at this time,” the diplomat said.
UN General Assembly to meet on Gaza as US blocks 3rd Security Council resolution
Emphasis mine. It must be understood that SC resolutions are not "take
it or leave it" deals. Instead, member states introduce drafts that
are passed around and every other member state can suggest
improvements and wording changes. This process can take days or
weeks. This means that the US is not blocking any specific
phrasing - it is blocking any resolution from being passed at
Since American diplomats are mum, the most obvious answer is that
Israel doesn't want the SC to issue a statement. Israel has rebuffed
attempts to reach a ceasefire between it and Hamas:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday ruled out the
prospect of an immediate cease-fire with the Palestinians in the
deadly flare-up of Middle Eastern violence, defying growing
international demands for de-escalation and concerted mediation
efforts by regional and world powers. ...
Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday that the Israel Defense Forces are seeking
to degrade Hamas and its missile capabilities, and that operations
wouldn’t be called off until that had been accomplished.
Israel Rules Out an Immediate Cease-Fire With the Palestinians
Israel apparently believes that bombing Gaza serves some not yet fully
achieved strategic goal. An SC resolution could make a cease-fire
But why does the US care about what Israel wants? You can write tomes
on this topic - I'll just sketch out some main themes:
The US sees Israel as one of its dearest allies. Historically, it has
blocked almost every SC resolution opposed by Israel. The US can do so
because it has veto powers in the SC.
The last SC resolution that Israel didn't like and the US didn't block
was the 2016 SC Resolution
2334. It declared
that "Israel's establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory
occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity,
constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major
obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and
security". The decision not to block the resolution was seen as a
major deviation from established policy and enraged Israel's
supporters. For example, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal
called it "Obama's Anti-Israel Tantrum" and implied that the decision
may have been influenced by anti-Semitism. It also argued that:
No longer needing Jewish votes, Mr. Obama was free, finally, to
punish the Jewish state in a way no previous President has done.
Obama's Anti-Israel Tantrum
The corollary is of course that a president who do need Jewish votes
is not free "to punish the Jewish state". This is not a new and the
idea of winning the Jewish vote, the African-American vote, the Latino
vote, etc, has been a mainstay of American politics for decades. For
example, this article from 1984 details how Walter Mondale and Gary
Hart fought over Jewish voters:
Walter Mondale and Gary Hart are slugging it out right now on one
key issue: who can do the most for Israel. Each promises to move the
American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if elected. Though both
have been admirably faithful in their support for Israel over the
years, each accuses the other of perfidy.
You might think the Jewish community would be pleased at such
intense expressions of concern for Israel. There are a great many
Jewish voters in New York, which holds its Presidential primary next
week, and the candidates are obviously out for their approval.
Abroad at Home: Pandering for Votes
Whether an American politician's stance on Israel can cost or win him
or her an election is, to the best of my knowledge, unknown. But,
clearly, many American politicians and pundits operate under the
assumption that the risk is real.
It's beyond the scope of this answer, but it should be noted that in
the US electoral system, some states' votes are much more important
than others and many Jews happen to live in those states. Furthermore,
while there are many staunch non-Jewish Israel supporters in the US
too, most of them are Republicans that won't switch sides. To pander
to them would be futile for the Democratics.
Thus, one would expect an American Democratic president's Israel
support to be at its highest in the first year his or her first term
because there are many elections ahead and at its lowest in the last
year of his or her second term.
However, pandering may not be the full answer; president Joe Biden's
personal opinions on Israel likely influences his administration's
decisions and Biden has been a life-long Zionist. The Washington Post
recently called him "a longtime pro-Israel
1986, he famously asserted that if Israel wouldn't have existed, the
US would have to invent it:
"There's no apology to be made. It is the best $3 billion investment
we make. If there weren't an Israel, the United States of America
would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the
If Israel wasn't there, the US would have to invent it to protect its interests
He has probably not changed his views; in 2007 he
"I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist" and in
2020: "My name is Joe Biden, and everybody knows I love Israel".
In other words, you have at least three plausible explanations as to
why the US decided to block the resolution:
- Tradition US administrations generally don't go against Israeli
interests. This is called the "diplomatic
with which the US shields Israel from criticism at the highest
- Personal Biden is a devout Zionist and has been Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's friend for
- Pandering Biden, the administration, the Democratic party, or
all three believes that securing the Jewish vote is important for
the upcoming 2022 mid-term elections.