19 Senate Democrats push Biden for plan to recognize a Palestinian state

The lawmakers say that laying out a plan for recognizing Palestine would reinvigorate the peace process. It marks a change from longtime U.S. policy

Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: United States Capitol building is seen under construction in Washington D.C., United States on September 24, 2023.

Nineteen Senate Democrats on Wednesday pressed President Joe Biden to lay out a plan for the U.S. to recognize a Palestinian state under control of a reformed Palestinian Authority.

The lawmakers’ letter to Biden argues that outlining a path to recognizing a demilitarized Palestinian state would “reignite U.S. leadership on a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” 

“Given the severity of the current crisis, this moment requires determined U.S. leadership that must move beyond facilitation” of Israeli-Palestinian talks, the lawmakers wrote.

Longtime U.S. policy has held that the U.S. should only recognize, or offer the prospect of recognition, of a Palestinian state as the result of direct bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The proposal put forward by the senators shifts that timeline.

The letter proposes that the administration’s plan should demand reforms to the PA’s education, judicial and security systems, martyr payments, corruption and incitement to violence, as well as a rejection of Hamas and terrorism and commitment to nonviolence. It states that the PA should also be required to recognize the State of Israel.

“Only with the success of the aforementioned initiatives and regional support for a two-state solution can the State of Israel exist with security and Israelis live without fear,” the letter reads. 

The letter criticizes the Israeli government for “refus[ing] to engage on a path to a Palestinian state” and says that it must allow increased humanitarian aid and the reconstruction process in Gaza, as well as crack down on West Bank settler violence, end Palestinian home demolitions, stop settlement expansion, release tax revenues to the PA and resume work permits for West Bank Palestinians to work in Israel.

“We recognize that none of this is possible until there is a ceasefire in Gaza, all hostages are released, and unfettered humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza,” the lawmakers continued.

The letter was signed by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Brown and Baldwin are both facing competitive reelection races this November, while Coons is a close Biden ally.

The Israeli government has argued that an aggressive push for a two-state solution in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack is misguided, and that it would effectively reward and validate Hamas’ devastating attack on Israel.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.