Cornel West: Democratic Party Beholden to AIPAC

Wexler: Addressing Settlements in Platform Undermines 2-State Solution

Addressing the issue of settlements in the Democratic Party’s platform or using the term “occupation” would only undermine the “common objective” of reaching a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Hillary Clinton’s representatives on the platform drafting committee said on Thursday.

“I would not support and would, in fact, oppose, the use of the word ‘occupation’ for the very reason that it undermines our common objective – your objective, my objective, and more importantly the objective of Secretary Clinton, of President Obama, of the Democratic Party – to achieve a negotiated two-state outcome,” Robert Wexler, a former Congressman and president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, told Dr. Cornel West during a hearing of the Democratic platform drafting committee. “A negotiated two-state outcome will result in an agreement on borders. And once you have borders, the issue that propels your concern regarding what you refer to as ‘occupation’ will be resolved. We have to consistently keep with behavior that promotes and encourages a two-state outcome. That should be the focus of the Democratic platform.”

Wexler also clashed with James Zogby, a pro-Palestinian activist and a Democratic Party insider, over the issue of settlements. “It has been recognized by every U.S. administration that there is an occupation,” Zogby stressed. “Would you not feel that it is more important to include the word ‘occupation’ which our president, this current president has mentioned and every previous president has mentioned, as a way simply of clarifying that to get to two states an occupation has to end.”

Wexler admitted that the Democratic platform’s position on settlements shouldn’t be more or less than the position held by all presidents going back to Johnson. However, by focusing just on settlements, “you undermine the whole equation that supports a negotiated two-state outcome.”

According to Wexler, just like nobody has suggested that the platform should include a solution to the issues of Jerusalem, refugees and security, the party should not litigate the issue of settlement. Instead, he suggested, the platform should outline a blueprint “to bring the two sides to a conclusion where our shared objectives are met – the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic state of Israel.”

Former Congressman Howard Berman, appointed by Hillary Clinton as a member of the drafting committee, echoed the same sentiments. “I could come up with a list – if we want this platform to get into it – of issues like incitement, the failure of the Palestinian Authority leadership to say yes, or yes but, to rewarding the families of [terrorists]. I could go through all of this,” he said. “I don’t want that to be what this platform does.”

“Our differences are really with the Republican Party in how we prosecute peace, not war, in the Middle East,” added Wendy Sherman, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. “We are all in agreement that there needs to be a two-state solution… And getting there is really something that should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.”

During the hearing, Dr. West said, “For too long the Democratic Party has been beholden to AIPAC” and “for so long the U.S. has been so biased toward Israeli security.” He also questioned whether the Democratic Party would respond in the same way if there was “a Palestinian occupation of our precious Jewish brothers and sisters.”

“I support the BDS, not because I think it’s anti-Semitic,” he added. “We have got to fight anti-Semitism, anti-Jewish hatred – it goes hand in hand with every Christian civilization and many Islamic civilizations. It’s wrong, it’s unjust – but that cannot be the excuse of in any way downplaying the unbelievable misery that we see in Gaza, in the West Bank and other places.”

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