UNITED NATIONS — The United States abstained for the first time in 25 years Wednesday on a U.N. resolution condemning America’s economic embargo against Cuba, a measure it had always vehemently opposed.

The U.S. was joined in abstaining by Israel, the only other country to vote against the embargo resolution in the General Assembly last year. When the vote – 191-0 with two abstentions – was shown on the electronic board, diplomats from the 193 U.N. member states burst into applause.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power announced the abstention just before the vote saying that the U.S. policy of isolation toward Cuba had “isolated the United States, including here at the United Nations.”

“After 55-plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we are choosing to take the path of engagement,” she said.

The U.S. decision to change its vote follows President Obama’s restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and his support for lifting the embargo, which the Republican-led Congress is against.

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced on Dec. 17, 2014, that they were restoring diplomatic ties, which were broken in 1961 after Fidel Castro took power and installed a communist government. On July 20 last year, diplomatic relations were restored and embassies of the two countries were reopened, but serious issues remain, especially the U.S. call for human rights on the Caribbean island and claims for expropriated property.

The U.S. abstention in the General Assembly vote was certain to anger both Republican and Democratic opponents of lifting the 55-year-old embargo, but it reflects President Obama’s belief shortly before he leaves office that it’s time to move ahead in normalizing U.S.-Cuban ties.

Indeed, there were immediate protests in the U.S. Congress.

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez from New Jersey, the son of Cuban immigrants, tweeted that the U.S. decision not to defend the “long-standing, bipartisan, human rights-based US law … is shameful.”