In Congress, a new battle emerges: 2 states or not 2 states

Two resolutions being considered by lawmakers are supportive of Israel, but only one explicitly backs a peace settlement that establishes a Palestinian state


File: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before holding direct peace talks at the State Department in Washington, DC, Sept. 2, 2010. (Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images via JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – There’s a striking difference between competing bids in Congress addressing last month’s UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

It’s not that they differ on the United Nations – the two nonbinding congressional resolutions under consideration condemn the Security Council, as well as the outgoing Obama administration for abstaining and not exercising the US veto.

Here’s the difference: Missing from one of the resolutions are the words “two states.” In the other resolution, the two-state outcome features prominently.

Sponsors said little on the record about the differences, but what the simultaneous introductions signal is a battle over whether it becomes US policy to regard the two-state solution as dead or alive.

In one corner is the mainstream pro-Israel community, combining leftists and centrists and led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, seeking to preserve two states as a viable outcome for Israel and the Palestinians.

In the other is a deeply conservative and often Orthodox minority of the American Jewish community that includes figures who are close to President-elect Donald Trump. They want the two-state solution declared dead in order to pave the way for Israel to annex portions of the West Bank it still controls.

The winner in Round 1: AIPAC.

The Republican leadership of the incoming US House of Representatives has scheduled a vote for Thursday on the resolution being backed by the lobby. Reps. Ed Royce, R-California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the committee’s senior Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, are the sponsors.

The other resolution, brought out by Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Florida — the House deputy majority whip and a member of Trump’s transition team — is in limbo awaiting consideration by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The two-state outcome appears high in the Royce-Engel resolution, in the second paragraph: “Whereas the United States has long supported a negotiated settlement leading to a sustainable two-state solution with the democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized, democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security.”

That resolution calls on the United States to seek the repeal or alteration of the Security Council resolution, so that “it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel.”

But don’t count out the other side. Trump has nominated as ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who has been a major donor to the settlement movement, and named as his top official dealing with international relations Jason Greenblatt, who has said that settlements are not an impediment to peace. The family of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has donated to settlements.

Additionally, the Republican Party, in a platform revision this summer, removed explicit references to two states. The Republican fundraiser who helped engineer that change, Jeff Ballabon, told BuzzFeed News over the long weekend that now, within the GOP, “you have to justify the notion of a two-state solution.”

That might not be true yet, but the sponsors of the resolution competing with Royce’s are a who’s who of the party’s anti-establishment right wing. They have scored impressive wins in recent years, not least of which is backing the winning candidate for president.

While the resolution disapproves of the UN resolution and the Obama administration’s abstention, it does not refer to the two-state solution.

“Two states” was omitted, a Ross spokeswoman said, because the resolution was more narrowly focused.

“The resolution is a very narrow response to the UN’s vote, specifically condemning President Obama’s instruction to abstain and abandon our closest ally,” Joni Shockey told JTA.

Whereas the Royce resolution emphasizes backing Israel in its quest for peace, the Ross resolution stresses the alliance, saying that Congress “affirms its commitment to the State of Israel as our loyal friend and strong ally in the Middle East.”

Senate versions of each of the House resolutions are expected to be introduced in the coming days.

File: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York) attends a memorial vigil for victims of the Paris terror attack in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City, Nov. 15, 2015. (Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images via JTA)
File: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York) attends a memorial vigil for victims of the Paris terror attack in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City, Nov. 15, 2015. (Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images via JTA)

Ballabon told JTA that the Ross resolution made more sense, as it focused directly on the UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

“Instead of focusing on the real crime of 2334 — its abandonment of Israel and its legitimization of ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Jewish homeland — Royce’s resolution laments the damage to the ‘Two-State Solution’ – the fetishized fantasy of a peaceful PLO state,” he wrote JTA in an email.

US administrations, Democratic and Republican, have embraced a two-state outcome since the early 2000s. It was the solution sought by President Bill Clinton at Camp David in 2000, and although George W. Bush seemed at first skeptical, he embraced the outcome by 2002.

Three rounds of failed peace talks under Clinton, then Bush, then Obama have dampened expectations that the outcome is set to arrive anytime soon.

Whether the “two state is dead” crowd wins the bigger game depends on overcoming a number of formidable obstacles. Congressional leaders, even in this most polarizing of eras, still seek bipartisanship.

Whatever the tensions between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in recent years, congressional Democrats have shown they favor pro-Israel resolutions as long as they endorse two states. And Republican leaders like Royce and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, the majority leader who announced Thursday’s vote, will always be willing to tweak language to get the overwhelming majorities that show they are bridge builders.

Additionally, AIPAC’s role in this signifies the importance that the American Jewish establishment still attaches to a two-state outcome.

“Simply calling for a demilitarized and democratic Palestinian state living side by side in peace and harmony with Israel doesn’t necessarily translate into enduring reality,” American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris told JTA. “We’re talking about the Middle East, after all. But given the weak alternatives, this approach still seems the most feasible, particularly if Israel’s Jewish and democratic character are to be preserved for future generations.”

Then there’s Netanyahu, who still embraces the notion of two states, however much his party and governing coalition have abandoned the policy.

David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Netanyahu may encourage the Trump administration to preserve two states as an outcome by reviving President George W. Bush’s 2004 approach. In an April 14, 2004 letter to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Bush essentially recognized settlement blocs bordering the 1967 lines as likely to remain in Israel, and opposed expansion of settlements beyond the security fence now bisecting the West bank.

“A reaffirmation of the Bush letter would help establish US policy at a time when a US administration will be preoccupied with other more urgent priorities,” said Makovsky, who was a member of the State Department team that last tried to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace in 2013-14. “This would be convenient for Netanyahu and Trump and would retain the viability of two states.”

Why would Trump defy his closest Jewish advisers and continue to bank on a two-state outcome? Trump has proven unpredictable. He said several times while campaigning that he would like to take a stab at this most knotty of American foreign policy challenges.

And the AJC’s Harris and Makovksy, in separate interviews, cited another factor in the president-elect’s biography: He can’t resist the challenge of a deal that has so far defeated all comers.

“He’s a lifelong deal maker,” Harris said of the author of the best-selling “The Art of the Deal.” “This one may at some point tempt him as the ultimate challenge.”

January 4, 2017 | 18 Comments » | 73 views

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18 Comments / 18 Comments

  1. Trump is a deal maker but he will need a big stick to get the Arabs to keep their end of any agreement. The two state solution is stone cold dead as far as the Pals are concerned. They want it all and as a result of this resolution they will now be convinced that they can get their victory without negotiating anything.

  2. The idea of keeping a ‘2 state solution ‘ is a very dangerous fantasy.? The thugocracies in Ramallah and Gaza don’t stop inciting, teaching violence or distorting history! They want all of the Land of Israel free of Jews. Land for ‘piece’ has proven to be a disaster. Why do BIBI, Aipac and others still repeat the 2 state idiotic mantra simply has to do with the CFR (council of foreign relations) agenda .

  3. @ Miguel Stroe:

    Who’s the next victim of TSS? Could be someone you know. Could be someone you love.

    “Politicians call for home demolition, ‘deportation’ of family of Palestinian attacker who killed Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, in her Kiryat Arba bedroom BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF June 30, 2016, 2:52 pm”

    [talk about closing the barn doors after the horses have already fled.]

  4. Relevant aside from article questioning AIPAC even being pro-Israel to begin with.

    “…Consider this note from 1969: …recent rejection by Al Fatah representative of all plans to establish Palestinian state on Jordan West Bank and in Gaza Strip noted; Palestinian National Council member Dr S Dabbagh urges commandos to prepare now for strategy they will follow if Arab states accept political settlement.”[9]

    Al Fatah is the dominant faction within the PLO — it calls all the shots. The Palestinian National Council is the legislative body of the PLO. Thus, what we have above is a total rejection by the PLO, in 1969, of a PLO state in the West Bank and Gaza. Why?

    The answer to this question will be found in the PLO Charter — or perhaps I should say charters (plural), as there have been two. The first charter dates from 1964, and in article 24 it states:

    Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.[10]

    Isn’t that curious? In 1964 the PLO went quite out of its way, as you can see above, to state that the West Bank and Gaza (1) were not “Palestinian” lands, (2) belonged rightfully to Jordan and Egypt, respectively, and (3) were of no interest to the PLO. In 1968, however, the PLO Charter was rewritten and this is the charter that remains current to this day. This second charter removed the statements earlier contained in article 24. Its first two articles state:

    Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people…

    Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.[11]

    This means that the PLO, starting in 1968, did now begin claiming as ‘Palestinian’ the West Bank and Gaza. For you see, the boundaries of the territory called ‘Palestine’ during the British Mandate included the West Bank and Gaza (plus the rest of present-day Israel).[12] Why the PLO’s abrupt 180-degree reversal on whether the West Bank and Gaza were ‘Palestinian’? Because the year before, in 1967, after the surrounding Arab states had provoked a war with Israel, the Israelis had emerged victorious, and had captured the West Bank and Gaza.

    What this means is that there is no such thing as a fixed ‘Palestinian land’ as far as the PLO is concerned; there is just land that Jews live on. Since the Jews returned to live in the West Bank and Gaza after 1967, these territories — which the PLO had explicitly maintained it was not interested in — suddenly became of great interest to the PLO and were called by them for the first time ‘Palestinian.’ This is easily explained, because the PLO’s purpose is to exterminate the Israeli Jews. Article 15 of the 1968 PLO charter says that the PLO means to “liquidate the Zionist…presence” (“liquidate” is the very kind of language that the German Nazis used) and article 9 states that “armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine” (my emphasis).[13] None of this will be surprising to those who know that Yasser Arafat was mentored by a leader of Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution, Hajj Amin al Husseini, and that members of Hajj Amin’s organization (the Arab Higher Committee) created Arafat’s — and now Mahmoud Abbas’s — outfit: Al Fatah, which happens to be the controlling core of the PLO (now better known as the ‘Palestinian Authority’).[12a]…”

  5. @ Birdalone:
    They are targeting Yesha. Upholding sovereignty, fighting boycotts are two sides of the same coin. It’s not one or the other. Common sense: why do we care if they boycott part of our country, if we are going to ethnically cleanse our people from their homes and homeland anyway from that part of our country? Makes as much sense as offering to give away California. Politically less appealing.

  6. @ Birdalone:

    BDS is an attack against all of Israel as any company doing business in territories is up for boycott like banks gas companies gas stations chain stores and all companies delivering goods and services to towns and settlements large and small. Ironic is that same companies service the Arab communities in all areas A B and C.

  7. @ yamit82:
    yes yamit, but Congress can pass a national anti-BDS law as
    Anti-BDS laws have been enacted only in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

    BDS will hurt long before Judea is made Judenfrei.


  8. @ yamit82:
    @ Birdalone:
    All the Congress needs to do is enact the 2016 Republican National Platform into Law minus the sentence I put in parens. It’s all there on p. 47.

    “Our Unequivocal Support for Israel”

    “Like the United States of America, the modern
    state of Israel is a country born from the aspiration
    for freedom and stands out among the nations
    as a beacon of democracy and humanity. Beyond
    our mutual strategic interests, Israel is likewise an
    exceptional country that shares our most essential
    values. It is the only country in the Middle East
    where freedom of speech and freedom of religion
    are found. Therefore, support for Israel is an expression
    of Americanism, and it is the responsibility of
    our government to advance policies that reflect
    Americans’ strong desire for a relationship with no
    daylight between America and Israel. We recognize
    Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of
    the Jewish state and call for the American embassy
    to be moved there in fulfillment of U.S. law.
    We reaffirm America’s
    commitment to Israel’s security
    and will ensure that Israel maintains
    a qualitative military edge
    over any and all adversaries. We
    support Israel’s right and obligation
    to defend itself against
    terror attacks upon its people
    and against alternative forms
    of warfare being waged upon
    it legally, economically, culturally,
    and otherwise. We reject
    the false notion that Israel is an
    occupier and specifically recognize
    that the Boycott, Divestment,
    and Sanctions Movement
    (BDS) is anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy
    Israel. Therefore, we call for effective legislation to
    thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial
    relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing
    business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories,
    in a discriminatory manner.
    (The United States seeks to assist in the establishment
    of comprehensive and lasting peace in the
    Middle East, to be negotiated among those living
    in the region.) We oppose any measures intended to
    impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other
    terms, and we call for the immediate termination of
    all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do
    so. Our party is proud to stand with Israel now and

    p. 47.

    Make it as strong a law as can be, an Act followed by its affirmation as a Constitutional Amendment. And then a U.N. Resolution. The UN should not get another penny until it enacts this in the Security Council. In both cases, the sentence I put in parens should be omitted. The pals have to go.

    “With pals like this…”

  9. Senate Bill introduced – Freeze State Dept. Funding until Embassy Moves.

    Republican Senators Introduce Bill to Move US Embassy in Israel From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

    “…bill would freeze a significant portion of the US State Department’s funding until the department completes the embassy’s move to Jerusalem…”

    “JANUARY 4, 2017 1:40 PM

  10. The world at large must compare how Israel uplifted and resettled the expelled and forcefully dispossessed Million families of JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES who had all their assets confiscated, including businesses, homes and over 75,000 sq. mi. of Jewish owned land for over 2,500 years, the amount of land confiscated by the Arabs is more than 6 times the size of Israel valued in the trillions of dollars with 68 years of Arab manipulation, and a much lower number of Arab refugees. Mahmoud Abbas’ the convicted murderer stance on refugees makes a mockery of a two state solution, which will never happen, since it already exists in Jordan, which is the new Arab/Palestinian state on Jewish territory. It denies the rights of the million Jewish families refugees from the Arab countries. It sidesteps Arab culpability for starting the wars that led to BOTH refugee issues. And it runs counter to the way every other population exchange has been resolved. They have to consider relocating to Jordan and or to the homes and lands the Arabs confiscated from the expelled Jewish people. The Arabs received over 12 million sq. km. of territory with a wealth of oil reserves after WWI, they have 21 States where they must resettle the Arab refugees, and Israel has only one small one, all the territory west of the Jordan River.
    YJ Draiman

    A quote state wisely
    “No country in the world exists today by virtue of its ‘right’.
    All countries exist today by virtue of their ability to defend themselves against those who seek their destruction.”

    A quote by Abba Eban
    “Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’ [As a Jewish State] Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement. . . .There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”

    Abba Eban

  11. Israel stands in the way and is an obstacle to full Muslim domination of the Middle East.
    The West fears Islamic aggression (which has been going on since WW1), and is opting for appeasement. Propaganda is being used to try to convince people that Muslims in Israel, and in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights, are being mistreated. Islamist forces have conducted maneuvers at the borders of Israel, and have continuously lobbed missiles into Israel. Islam constantly threatens Israel, often using language that proclaims a desire for the complete destruction of Israel. The Arab-Palestinians have spoken to the world, proclaiming parts of Israel to belong to them.
    Peace in the Middle East is desired at any cost by the Western Appeasers. The unrest is being blamed on Israel. Islam promises that the Arab-Palestinian claims are the last they will make in Israel. If land is traded for peace, they say, and then the unrest in the Middle East will ease, which is a delusion and not reality.
    The Western Leaders, fearful that if the Muslims are not appeased the world could plunge into terrorism (which it has already and increasing daily), have decided they need to negotiate with the Arab-Palestinians, grant them the Statehood they suddenly desire, and grant them their demands for the purpose of a delusional peace.
    As The West prepares for appeasement, the forces of Jihadism are on the rise in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Iran and extends to Pakistan, Afghanistan and former Russian states. Egypt’s peace with Israel has been guaranteed by U.S. involvement, and land for peace. The treaty with Egypt was based on the proposition of the Sinai in 1982 for peace. The Islamists moving into position to gain power in Egypt places the treaty at risk. They have no intention of abiding by its provisions.
    The concept of land for peace has failed, as it failed prior to WW2. Islamism does not care about land. Islamism only cares about the destruction of Israel, the destruction of non-Islamic societies, and ultimately the worldwide domination of Islam through a Muslim caliphate.
    Israel gives land because they want the Arabs to abide by peace agreements. Israel craves peace, but deep down knows that it is not possible. Islam has made it loud and clear that land for peace is a one way street. Israeli land giveaways are permanent, but Islamic commitments to peace are revoked at any time.
    With the current presidential administration in the United States, and the liberal socialists in control of the U.N. and Europe, Israel stands alone. No one plans to stand up for Israel’s right to exist, as history has proven, the Jewish people have ultimately been abandoned by the world nations. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties are working to take an absolute majority in Egypt and other Muslim countries, but The West has fallen for the propaganda that claims these parties are moderate and pragmatic. ISIS has proven that this approach is wrong and detrimental to peaceful coexistence.
    The fact is, the rising Islamist control over the Muslim nations has no intention of respecting treaties, or Israel’s right to exist. They are waiting for conflict, and then will blame it on Israel. Talks are doomed to failure. The Islamists want it that way or the highway.
    Land for Peace fails. Liberalism fails. Only a strong and direct military posture with no-holds-barred that stands up against the rising threat will succeed. . . but the appeasers refuse to learn from history, and like Neville Chamberlain with Germany, Barack Obama and his fellow appeasers are positioning the world for a new world conflict that could turn the world to ashes.
    A viable solution for the conflict is: Two States – Greater Israel for the Jewish people as guaranteed by International law and treaties after WW1 and Jordan that was originally part of the territory allocated to the Jewish people under 1920 international treaties, and agreements including the 1919 Faisal Weizmann Agreement; thus Jordan has about 85% of its people are Arab-Palestinians and the over 120,000 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. mi. (6 times the size of Israel) the Arab countries confiscated from the million plus Jewish families they persecuted and expelled from Arab countries and confiscated all their assets, businesses, homes and Real estate property valued in the trillions of dollars.
    That should settle the refugee problem once and for all.
    But the Arabs will not be satisfied until they get all of Israel without the Jews and they do not hide their intention.
    But now in January 2017, we have a new American U.S. administration that actively wants to do what is right and just for the Jewish people. The new administration will support Israel’s rights to all the territory of the historical Land of Israel.
    YJ Draiman.

  12. I am somewhat surprised at all the commotion regarding the U.N resolution 2334 which condemns Jewish Communities and Settlements in the West Bank aka Judea and Samaria. It should be noted Israel regained land and rebuilt communities previously taken from it illegally via the Defensive War of 1967 when it had to defend itself from an unprovoked attack from Jordan. If the U.N voted a resolution declaring the Vatican as Muslim territory, is anyone going to abide by it?

    According to my research, the U.N. Charter only provides for the recommendation(s) of a Resolution. In fact, the U.N. has absolutely no legal standing or power to enforce any Resolution(s). Furthermore, it cannot be ignored the U.N. has recommended hundreds of Resolutions against Israel with no legal, or factual standing to support said Resolutions. There is also the U.N. Article 51 which provides for defense against attack.

    Israel is on solid legal and historical ground as far as Its’ territorial boundaries west of the Jordan River. In fact, history proves Israel has both a legal and historical claim for a lot of land held by Jordan.

    The World at large has for thousands of years wrongfully persecuted the Jews, confiscated and stole their assets including land. The world at large will try and push us around if we let them. It is time to put an end to such unjustified persecution.
    All the distortions of history up to and including modern day, by biased nations relying upon fictitious make-believe facts and wishful beliefs, must not be tolerated any more. While most of the biased world continues to unjustly assail Israel, the nation of Israel contributes to the world a substantial amount of advancement and technology in all fields, including medicine, energy, water desalination, IT, and much more.

    Today the Jewish State of Israel has the man-power and the resources to defend itself against most world powers. Thus, it is time for us Jews to become unified and stand up for ourselves as was done during the days of Moses, King David and King Solomon.

    We are supposed to be “a stubborn nation” (Am Kshey Oref). Let us utilize our “stubborn” resolve with a strong backbone steeled with our unwavering faith. If we stand our ground without capitulations, we might encounter some obstacles and suffer some set-backs. But in the long run we will be stronger and the world at large will respect us more.

    We must overcome the “victim mentality” we have too easily accepted over thousands of years. It is time for all Jews worldwide to raise our heads, and steel our resolve as a proud nation with proud people.

    YJ Draiman

  13. Israel must certainly leave the victim mentality behind and stop appeasing the biased and twisted UN, Liberal western leaders and the non elected EU dictators. The terrorism and Islamic war against Israel has been going on too long. These days endless wars are caused by listening to well, or perhaps not so well meaning humanists who intervene in defensive wars and call for the attacked to cease fire before the aggressor is beaten and no longer able to attack. The only way to get peace (meaning in this case “absence of war”) is certainly to not start a war, but if you are attacked then you must fight hard to win. Islam through groups like ISIS is attacking the West just as Israel is also under constant attack from Hamas and other terrorist organisations. The only proper and moral way to stop a war against you is to win it and make sure that your enemy is not able and in no fit state militarily or financially, to continue, to regroup or has no-where left to fight from (take the land from which he attacked) and ensure that militarily he is disbanded and scattered. This is a basic principle of personal self-defense as well as a principle of any defensive war. This pathetic misguided business of defenders being pressured into ceasefires by useless organisations like the UN just allows the attackers to re-group, re-arm and attack again. Leaders must realise that when someone attacks you they intend to kill you and take over your countries for themselves, they are serious and are not playing games, as can be seen by the way they kill people by any foul means they can think of.

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