October 1, 2020

House passes two-state Israeli-Palestinian resolution in ‘attempted rebuke’ of Trump

In what was widely viewed as an expression of disapproval toward the Trump administration’s relationship with Israel, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution largely along party lines on Friday that reaffirmed congressional support for a “two-state solution” to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, The Hill reported.

The resolution passed by a vote of 226–183, with only five Republicans joining in support. However, 11 Republicans voted in favor of an amendment to the measure that also reaffirmed a commitment for the U.S. to continue providing military aid to Israel.

Two Democrats voted “present” on the bill, independent Rep. Justin Amash (MI) voted “no,” and four Democrats also voted “no” — the infamous “Squad” comprised of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Rashida Tlaib (MI) — all due to various objections to certain parts of the resolution.

“Attempted rebuke” of Trump

The measure essentially opposed any sort of peace plan or process that didn’t explicitly include an end goal of an independent Palestinian state alongside the independent state of Israel, and it came on the heels of a recent move by the State Department to reverse an Obama-era position that declared Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas illegal. The House measure instead took no position on the settlements.

The resolution also served as rebuke to what critics said were Trump administration moves that endangered a potential two-state solution, such as relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and reducing U.S. aid to Palestinian groups.

“It is no coincidence this resolution is being brought now,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), a strong supporter of Israel and Trump, said ahead of the vote, according to The Hill. “It is a rebuke, attempted rebuke of the Trump administration.”

Details of measure

Aside from noting Congress’ longstanding expressed support for a two-state solution to settle the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, the resolution also called on both sides of that fight to refrain from taking actions that would jeopardize such a solution. For Israel, that meant refraining from further expansion of settlements or annexation of Palestinian territory, while for the Palestinians it meant refraining from seeking independent statehood outside of negotiations with Israel.

Of those who opposed the measure for varied reasons, there was disapproval for continued aid to Israel, a call for a tougher stance against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and, at least in the case of Tlaib, an opposition to the two-state solution. She instead favors a one-state solution that would combine Israel with the Palestinian territories.

However, it was a fellow Democrat, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), who explained that a one-state solution would actually threaten Israel’s very existence.

Engel said on the House floor: “Do you know what a one-state solution means? It means a state where Jews can become the minority in their own country. It means one Palestinian state with no determination for the Jewish people or for the Palestinians. Israel’s right to exist as a state that is both Jewish and democratic is incompatible with a one-state solution, period.”

Going nowhere

This Democrat-backed resolution was most certainly intended as a message of rebuke for President Trump’s close relationship with Israel’s government led by Netanyahu and a signal of support for the Palestinian people.

In the end, however, it is nothing but meaningless noise, as it is highly unlikely that the Republican-controlled Senate will even take up, much less actually pass, this particular measure put forward by the lower chamber.

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