Pushback

Over 100 House Democrats pen letter against Trump’s peace plan

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Over 100 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday expressing their “strong disapproval” of the Middle East peace plan released last week. In the draft letter, obtained by Jewish Insider ahead of its public release, the House members assert that the plan will push Israelis and Palestinians toward further conflict, and that the proposal gives Israel a “license to violate international law” by annexing settlements in the West Bank.

Who signed: Signatories of the letter — spearheaded by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Andy Levin (D-MI) — include Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). 

Not what we expected: According to the Democratic lawmakers, the map crafted by the administration’s Mideast peace team — which includes a demilitarized Palestinian state on 70% of the West Bank — makes a “genuine two-state solution impossible” because the territory given to the Palestinians for a state would be surrounded by settlements and under Israeli control, which “does not constitute statehood.” 

The House members also decry the timing of the release: “Coming just over a month before Israel’s third election in a year – against the backdrop of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictments – releasing the plan now appears to be an inappropriate intervention in a foreign election.” 

Congressional support: In December, the House approved Lowenthal’s resolution (H.R. 326) reaffirming U.S. support for the two-state solution. The measure, cosponsored by 200 Democrats, also expresses opposition to the “unilateral annexation of territory or efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood status outside the framework of negotiations.” 

Warning: The letter concludes, “A U.S. proposal that promotes unilateral annexation and jettisons a real two-state solution is bad for Israel, for the shared values that have historically undergirded the U.S.-Israel relationship, and for the bipartisan consensus in the U.S. on the importance of that relationship, which Israel has long understood to be a crucial strategic asset.”

Read the full letter below:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our strong disapproval of your administration’s proposal, the purported aim of which is to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Our concern is both with the substance of your plan, which will exacerbate and entrench conflict rather than resolve it, and with the timing of its release.

In December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Res.326 with bipartisan support. That resolution indicated Congressional opposition to unilateral annexation of the West Bank, asserted longstanding U.S. opposition to settlement expansion, and reaffirmed that any viable U.S.-proposed peace plan must include support for a two-state solution. A real two-state solution is the only conflict-ending means of securing both national self-determination for Palestinians and an Israel that is secure, democratic, and a homeland for the Jewish people.

However, the “ultimate deal” that your team has incubated for the past three years is not a serious or good faith attempt to bring such a durable peace between the parties to this conflict. Of utmost concern, your proposal effectively paves the way for permanent occupation of the West Bank. It endorses unilateral annexation of Israeli settlements, as well as the Jordan Valley. While your proposal uses the language of statehood for Palestinians, it provides for far less than an actual, viable state. A collection of disconnected Palestinian enclaves – surrounded by settlements and settlement infrastructure annexed by Israel, and still under Israeli control – does not constitute statehood. Crafted by a team that has long indicated its animosity to actual Palestinian statehood, your proposal attempts to make a genuine two-state solution impossible.

We are deeply concerned that your administration developed a proposal without consulting Palestinians and that no Palestinian leadership could plausibly accept. It could result in renewed violence in Israel and across the occupied territories. It may destabilize Jordan, a vital U.S. ally, and endanger Israel’s peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt. It also will likely deepen animosity toward the United States throughout the broader Middle East.

In addition to the highly problematic nature of your proposal, the timing of its release suggests motives unrelated to helping solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Coming just over a month before Israel’s third election in a year – against the backdrop of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictments – releasing the plan now appears to be an inappropriate intervention in a foreign election.

A U.S. proposal that promotes unilateral annexation and jettisons a real two-state solution is bad for Israel, for the shared values that have historically undergirded the U.S.-Israel relationship, and for the bipartisan consensus in the U.S. on the importance of that relationship, which Israel has long understood to be a crucial strategic asset.

Your plan will hurt Israelis and Palestinians alike, pushing them toward further conflict. It does not have our support, and the Israeli government must not take it as license to violate international law by annexing all or portions of the West Bank.

This post was updated

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