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on the hill

House passes pro-Israel, Abraham Accords resolution in 400-19 vote

Legislators voted overwhelmingly yesterday in favor of a resolution expressing support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and the Abraham Accords, in honor of Israel’s 75th anniversary

Zeevveez

The House voted 400-19 on Tuesday evening in favor of a resolution expressing support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and the Abraham Accords in honor of the 75th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

The resolution represents a strong bipartisan show of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship and highlights the robust support that Israel continues to enjoy in Congress.

Eighteen Democrats and one Republican voted against the resolution: Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Summer Lee (D-PA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Andre Carson (D-IN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Delia Ramirez (D-IL).

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), the lead sponsor of the resolution, said in a statement following the vote that the “bipartisan passage of this resolution reaffirms our commitment to the people of Israel and promotes vital security assistance so they can defend themselves in the face of an increasingly aggressive Iran.”

Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) were original co-sponsors of the legislation.

However, a statement issued by a group including several high-ranking Democrats — and Manning and Schneider — raised concerns about the resolution text, specifically its omission of support for a two-state solution.

“Unlike previous resolutions honoring Israel’s birthday and achievements, this resolution, principally drafted by Republicans, broke the longstanding bipartisan tradition of acknowledging the importance of achieving a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement read. “However, the strong bipartisan vote on [the resolution] was an important opportunity for the House to formally express our support for Israel as we have on similar occasions in the past.

Signatories to the statement included Reps. Greg Meeks (D-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), David Cicilline (D-RI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Manning and Schneider.

The statement noted that lawmakers have worked in a bipartisan fashion to “ensure[] broad bipartisan consensus that Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires working toward a negotiated, sustainable two-state solution.”

“We have appreciated when previous acknowledgments of milestones and achievements noted the need for just and lasting peace for all the people of the region and believe future opportunities would be well served to uphold and jointly affirm U.S. policy of supporting a two-state solution,” the statement continued. 

J Street, the left-wing Israel advocacy group, raised concerns about the legislation before the vote — without urging a specific outcome — because it did not include an endorsement of a two-state solution or mention the Palestinians.

Following the vote, J Street urged congressional offices to sign onto a new letter by Raskin and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) criticizing Israeli judicial reform efforts and expressing support for the Israeli protest movement, according to an email communication from J Street to congressional staffers obtained by Jewish Insider.

The letter argues that the judicial reform proposal would “exacerbate tensions in the region, further undermine the viability of a two-state solution and jeopardize the progress made by the Abraham Accords” by removing the Supreme Court as an obstacle to further settlement expansion and seizures of property. It also states that the reforms “will corrode Israel’s democratic character and, in doing so, strain the critical relationship between Israel and the United States.” 

Most of the votes against Tuesday’s resolution came from frequent critics of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Massie, a libertarian with isolationist foreign policy views, was also the sole GOP “no” vote on a bill providing additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense system two years ago. Bush, Carson, Garcia, Grijalva, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib also voted against the Iron Dome funding.

Bowman voted in favor of the Iron Dome funding but faced intense pushback from the Democratic Socialists of America for that vote and for traveling to Israel, and has since adopted a more critical stance toward the U.S.-Israel relationship and the Abraham Accords.

Lee and Ramirez, both freshman lawmakers, are new additions to the flank of the Democratic Party that has been the most critical of Israeli policies; both first-term lawmakers were opposed in their elections by pro-Israel groups. Lee sought to fend off accusations during her campaign that she was anti-Israel, while offering criticisms of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Ramirez told JI during her campaign that she supported continued U.S. aid and would have voted in favor of the Iron Dome bill.

Ocasio-Cortez voted “present” on the Iron Dome bill but later expressed regret for not voting against it, and has otherwise been critical of Israel during her tenure. Johnson also voted present on the Iron Dome bill. 

McCollum and Pocan have been leading critics of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. Jayapal, the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, has also been critical.

DeSaulnier co-sponsored McCollum’s 2021 bill calling for restrictions on aid to Israel and urged the administration to attempt to block the evictions of Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area in the West Bank. But he also co-sponsored the Israel Relations Normalization Act, which called for the U.S. to support the expansion and deepening of the Abraham Accords. In a 2021 Fox News interview, DeSaulnier described Israel as a “thriving democracy” and said he is “very supportive of and respectful of the challenges that Israel is going through.”

“I support Israel as a democratic, Jewish state and join with many who are commemorating its 75th anniversary,” DeSaulnier said in a statement to Jewish Insider. “I do not, however, feel that the resolution was the appropriate way to mark the occasion, particularly as it notably omitted any reference to working toward a two-state solution, a longstanding bipartisan goal, or the troubling actions being taken by its current government. I look forward to continuing my support for peace and security in Israel and Palestine.”

Velazquez signed onto a letter in 2020 threatening to condition aid to Israel if it proceeded with plans to annex portions of the West Bank. She subsequently insisted in a letter to pro-Israel constituents that she remained committed to Israel and said she would “continue to support funding to protect the people of Israel” and “carefully review review future legislative action impacting Israel and will keep your suggestions in mind while navigating the legislative debate.” 

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Huffman joined McCollum’s bill calling for restrictions on U.S. aid to Israel in 2021 and traveled last year to Israel with J Street, saying following the trip that he saw “parallels” to South African apartheid in Israel’s “untenable occupation” of the West Bank. He was also critical of the Biden administration’s approach, which sought to avoid confrontations with the previous Israeli government.

None of the lawmakers who voted against the resolution represent districts that are rated as competitive by the Cook Political Report.

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