special relationship

Congress defends two-state resolution after Knesset critique

House Members: Resolution in support of two states strengthens U.S.-Israel alliance

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) walks up the House steps on April 4, 2019.

Democratic and Republican House members are pushing back against Israeli criticism of a recent bipartisan resolution that included support for a two-state solution. 

Twenty-one Knesset members — including Avi Dichter and four other senior Likud lawmakers — sent a letter to members of Congress on Monday criticizing the language in support of a two-state solution included in the recently passed H. Res. 246. The Israeli legislators claimed the resolution, which opposes the BDS movement, was a “grave error” because the creation of a Palestinian state would be “far more dangerous for Israel” than the BDS campaign.

Brad Schneider (D-IL), one of the authors of the anti-BDS resolution, told Jewish Insider on Wednesday that he strongly believes a two-state solution is “the only way to guarantee Israel’s safety.” 

“For the last 20 years, every prime minister, including Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, has supported the two states,” Schneider said. “From my perspective, the only way that we can guarantee Israel’s security and ensure its identity as a Jewish and democratic state — while at the same time providing self determination to both the Jews and the Palestinians — is ultimately a negotiated two-state solution.”

Schneider added that “no one is naive enough to say that that is on the horizon and we can achieve that tomorrow or even in the near term.” But he said that the overwhelming congressional support for the bill showed “very clearly that, number one, we support Israel… And ultimately security will be achieved through direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And we condemn BDS in a strong and unified voice because it does not support Israel as a Jewish state, it does not recognize the Jewish aspiration for a state of their own, and does not support a two-state solution. We were very clear on that.” 

Schneider, who was part of the 41-member Democratic House delegation to Israel last week, said that while the 21 right-wing MKs “have their own perspective, I think Congress has spoken in one clear voice” in support of two states. 

Katie Vincentz, a spokesperson for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) — one of the resolution’s original cosponsors — said in a statement to JI: “The congressman supports a strong U.S.-Israel partnership. The text of the resolution as it relates to negotiated peace on the ground in and around Israel is entirely consistent with longstanding policy. That part of the resolution was not new.”

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Tuesday that “over 97 percent of Congress voted for that resolution. And that resolution was a proclamation of the fact that one need not choose between opposing BDS — which I do… one need not choose that over peace. That is representative of a false choice, because there’s every potential for a two-state resolution… I firmly believe that while I know it’s complicated, while I know it’s difficult, while I know that this has been years in the making, I’ve not lost hope in the possibilities.” 

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), who is visiting Israel this week as part of a Republican congressional delegation, defended his vote on the resolution in an interview with JI in Jerusalem, saying “no bill is perfect. No resolution is perfect.”

But the Ohio lawmaker stressed: “The way I approach it is — you vote on what’s there and you ask yourself the question: Is this more in the direction of what I believe or less? For me, I thought it was important to send a signal that the United States does not stand for the BDS movement in any way. Was it a perfect bill? No. But, no bill is. For the sake of the partnership and the alliance that we have between our countries, I thought that was important.” 

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