Opposition to Israeli settlements is perhaps the only issue on which the entire Arab and Muslim world is united. Iraqis and Afghanis, Syrians and Egyptians, Indonesians and Pakistanis don't agree on much, but they do agree on that. They also agree that the US policy on settlements demonstrates flagrant disregard for human rights in the Muslim world (at least when Israel is the human rights violator).
Accordingly, a US decision to support the condemnation of settlements would send a clear message to the Arab and Muslim world that we understand what is happening in the Middle East and that we share at least some of its peoples' concerns.
The settlement issue should be an easy one for the United States. Our official policy is the same as that of the Arab world. We oppose settlements. We consider them illegal. We have repeatedly demanded that the Israelis stop expanding them (although the Israeli government repeatedly ignores us). The administration feels so strongly about settlements that it recently offered Israel an extra $3.5bn in US aid to freeze settlements for 90 days.
It is impossible, then, for the United States to pretend that we do not agree with the resolution (especially when its language was carefully drafted to comport with the administration's official position). So why will we veto a resolution that expresses our own views?
Steinberg says that "We do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues."
Why not? It is the Security Council that passed all the major international resolutions (with US support) governing Israel's role in the occupied territories since the first one, UN Resolution 242 in 1967.
Why not indeed! UNSC resolutions were used to justify going to war and expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. I've posted about the hypocrisy before. If the US government were fair, they would treat Israel the same way they treated Iraq. I don't expect the US to bomb Israel like Iraq was bombed in 1991, but the US government should put greater pressure on Israel to stop expanding into Palestinian territory. The hypocrisy makes America look bad.