WASHINGTON – Seventy-three House Democrats are urging U.S. President Joe Biden to reverse the Trump administration's "abandonment of longstanding, bipartisan U.S. policy" relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including support for a two-state solution.
Led by Reps. Gerry Connolly, Peter Welch and Jan Schakowsky, the lawmakers welcomed the administration's initial release of aid for the Palestinians, as well as its inclusion in next fiscal year's budget request, but made several specific suggestions to align U.S. policy with his call for supporting Israel and ensuring equal measures for Israelis and Palestinians.
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These include formally withdrawing Trump's peace plan, insisting through all channels that Hamas stop rocket attacks, quickly reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, reissuing State Department and customs guidances to clarify that settlements are inconsistent with international law, and opposing the forced expulsion of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and throughout Palestinian territory.
The lawmakers also call on the administration to ensure that the U.S. consistently refers to the status of the West Bank and Gaza as occupied, while ensuring that all remaining congressionally appropriated aid is disbursed without undue delay, as well as proactively issuing firm public condemnations of specific actions from either party that undermine the prospects for peace.
"While there are additional steps that both parties to the conflict can and must take to preserve the possibility of one day reaching a two-state solution, we believe the first step for the United States must be to urgently restore American policy positions conducive to the prospects for peace," the lawmakers write.
The signatures include names of lawmakers who have argued that the Democratic Party has not shifted its stance on Israel despite growing progressive criticism — such as Reps. Ro Khanna and David Price — as well as notable critics of Israeli policy such as Reps. Betty McCollum, Marie Newman, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan and Jamaal Bowman.
Several Jewish lawmakers signed as well in addition to Schakowsky, including Reps. Andy Levin, Jamie Raskin, John Yarmuth, Sara Jacobs, Alan Lowenthal and Steve Cohen.
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J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said the letter sends a critical message to the administration that it can and should do more to stop the ongoing deterioration of the situation.
"In the wake of last month’s terrible escalation in violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory, a wide range of leading Democrats are making clear that much more action is needed to address the root causes of the conflict and truly support the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians," Ben-Ami said.
"With a new government taking office in Israel, the U.S. has a critical opportunity to demonstrate publicly that our support for a lasting two-state solution is more than just lip service.”