Never let it be said that both parties can’t get themselves together and pass legislation when it suits them. When the rich needed a tax cut, Democrats and Republicans were there. When the banks needed a bailout, it took a while, but bipartisanship ruled the day. And when Israel is threatened with anything resembling a rebuke, you’ll see members of both parties step up in overwhelming numbers.

Key House leaders sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday evening urging that the U.S. veto a resolution at the U.N. Security Council that would declare any post-1967 Israeli settlements, including East Jerusalem, illegal.

The letter comes as the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League push the resolution at the council. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed opposition to the measure a week ago, stressing that the Israelis and Palestinians should work out their differences at the negotiating table. But Clinton didn’t commit to an administration veto, which the U.S. could do as one of five permanent members on the Security Council.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), along with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), ranking member Howard Berman (D-Calif.), incoming Middle East subcommittee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and ranking member Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), asked Obama to “pledge in response to this letter to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution that criticizes Israel regarding final status issues.”

If this were put to a vote in the House of Representatives, I’d gather it would get a vote of 432-1 or something. J Street has done some excellent work changing the conversation ever so slightly in Washington around these issues, but AIPAC still rules. Sure, you have a Senator like Rand Paul calling for an end to foreign aid for Israel. Even while he did this, he called Israel a “fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East.”

The resolution in question simply tracks with UN statutes regarding property obtained through war. Practically everything in the resolution reaffirms something already determined. The move is strategic, to attempt to force Israel and the US off the sidelines. Given recent revelations over the sham negotiations on Middle East peace, I don’t think that will work really, but the Palestinians feel they have no recourse.

Putting that all aside, this episode just reaffirms a simple truth: bipartisanship is available, as long as it’s about something on which the elites agree.

David Dayen

David Dayen