J Street Wants Dem Platform to Articulate ‘New Consensus’ on Israel

The Democratic Party could avoid a floor fight over its platform at the convention by agreeing on a “consensus” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said on Tuesday.

“We urge the committee to approach its work as a valuable opportunity for the Democratic Party to articulate a new consensus about America’s approach to the conflict,” Ben-Ami said during a conference call with reporters. “American Jews overwhelmingly favor a two-state solution, they oppose unlimited settlement expansion, and want American leadership to end the conflict.”

J Street is working to convince the party to rally around agreed wording after Bernie Sanders announced he is planning to use his leverage to change current U.S. policy on Israel in the party’s platform. Sanders appointed three Israel critics, Rep. Keith Ellison, Cornel West and James Zogby, to help draft a platform that reflects a policy that is more sympathetic towards the Palestinian side of the conflict.

According to Ben-Ami, the changes J Street is proposing doesn’t break any new ground “because support for a two-state solution is a consensus, not only within the Democratic Party but across party lines, for years. And similarly, every American administration since Johnson has expressed its opposition to settlement construction and expansion since the 1967 war. The platform should incorporate this longstanding and bipartisan cornerstone of U.S. policy towards the conflict.”

In a memo being circulated among members of the platform drafting committee, J Street suggests that the platform should also express a very broad base American opposition to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and restate the party’s position that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Art the same time, it should acknowledge that Jerusalem “is home to both Israelis and Palestinians and should affirm the suggestion made by Clinton in 2000 that Jerusalem is also the future capital of both peoples with specific arrangements reached in negotiations.”

The organization also launched an online petition urging the platform committee “to add language noting concern about the relentless expansion of settlements, which entrench the occupation and endanger peace,” noting that these views are “completely in line with those of an overwhelming majority of American Jews and Democrats more broadly.”

“The challenge now that the committee has is how to build on this common ground and push forward a platform that represents pro-Israel, pro-peace views that are the consensus in the Democratic Party,” said Ben-Ami.

The committee is expected to hold its first public hearing on Thursday.

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