Sen. Cory Booker joins colleagues, comes out against annexation

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Cory Booker

Mark C. Olsen

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker addresses family, friends, elected officials, and New Jersey National Guard leadership during the farewell ceremony for more than 180 New Jersey Army National Guard Soldiers from Alpha and Charlie Companies, 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, at the Prudential Center, Newark, N.J., Feb. 4, 2019.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is joining a majority of Democratic senators in speaking out in opposition to Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank.

“As a long-time supporter of the State of Israel and the unshakable bond between our two countries, I am deeply disheartened by the proposed unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank,” Booker said in a statement to Jewish Insider. Booker noted that he expressed his opposition to the move “directly to the Israeli government earlier this month,” stressing that “unilateral action like annexation would threaten that lasting peace from becoming a reality — with serious security, diplomatic, economic, and legal ramifications for Israel’s national security.”

Booker’s statement comes a month after 19 other Democratic senators, led by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), issued a stern letter opposing annexation. Instead of signing that letter, more than a dozen senators have spoken out against annexation individually in recent weeks. In addition, 191 members of the House have cautioned the Israeli government not to move forward with the effort. 

Asked about the push to condition military aid in response to unilateral annexation, the New Jersey senator told JI he is strongly opposed to the idea.

Read Booker’s full statement below: 

“As a long-time supporter of the State of Israel and the unshakable bond between our two countries, I am deeply disheartened by the proposed unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank. What happens to the West Bank, with its Palestinian population of almost three million and growing, is fundamentally intertwined with Israel’s national security and its future in the region and the international community. 

“Affirming and protecting Israel’s right to exist as a democratic Jewish state and ensuring the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and a state of their own are both necessary components of any real and lasting peace. That peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians that forge a sustainable and mutually agreed upon path forward in mutual peace and recognition. Continued bipartisan support for Israel and its security is essential as it pursues a directly negotiated two-state solution.

“As I expressed directly to the Israeli government earlier this month, a unilateral action like annexation would threaten that lasting peace from becoming a reality — with serious security, diplomatic, economic, and legal ramifications for Israel’s national security. I am calling on both Israeli and Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table and to avoid any unilateral steps pending an agreement.”

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