Most House members sign letter backing Israel at U.N.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 90 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives has signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to use U.S. veto power to block any United Nations resolutions seen as biased against Israel, one of the letter’s lead sponsors said on Friday.

Palestinian boys carry their belongings after the Israeli army demolished their shanty, that their family lives in, near the Israeli West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

U.S. Representative Nita Lowey said 394 members of the 435-member House signed the letter that was sent to Obama on Thursday.

It was written as the Palestinian Authority renewed its drive to persuade the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements in Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The United States vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council five years ago.

With U.S. efforts to broker a two-state solution in tatters since 2014, France has been lobbying countries to commit to a conference that would get Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations to end their conflict.

The congressional letter backed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but insisted that negotiations between the two sides are the only path to peace, not United Nations action or an international conference.

“The only way you can get there is if the two parties can be brought together and really go over all the issues,” Lowey said in a telephone interview.

Lowey is the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid. Republican Representative Kay Granger, who chairs the subcommittee, also sponsored the letter.

Lowey said she had not yet had a response to the letter, but she hoped administration officials were carefully reading it.

Support for Israel is one of the few issues that has the support of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Fiona Ortiz