Democrats, Republicans Endorse anti-BDS Resolution in Rare Bipartisan Agreement

48 U.S. lawmakers voiced support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite growing opposition from the Republican Party

BDS protest against Israel Israel Philharmonic Orchestra concert in New York, February 3, 2019.
Gili Getz

WASHINGTON — A group of 48 Democratic and Republican lawmakers has endorsed a joint resolution denouncing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The statement issued by the group, which calls itself The Problem Solvers Caucus, is a rare expression of bipartisan agreement at a time when partisan differences are shaping the discussion in Washington over Israel and the Palestinians.

The bipartisan resolution was introduced last month in the House of Representatives. It includes a clear denunciation of the BDS movement, and also a clear endorsement of the two-state solution. The fact that the Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans, has expressed its support for the resolution is significant, since in recent years there has been growing opposition within the Republican Party to a two-state solution.

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Republicans have not always opposed the two-state solution. Former Republican President George W. Bush was the first U.S. president to officially call for the creation of a Palestinian state. The late Sen. John McCain, who was the party’s presidential nominee in 2008 and a prominent Republican voice on foreign policy for decades, also supported the two-state solution for years.

In 2016, however, the Republican Party erased any reference to a two-state solution from its platform ahead of that year’s general election. The Trump administration, under the influence of religious right-wing groups, has also avoided expressing support for the two-state solution. Instead, the administration’s position has been that Trump will support a two-state solution “if the parties agree to it” — something that has almost zero chance of occurring as long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leading a religious, right-wing coalition in Israel.

The bipartisan group is trying to show that there is place in Congress for a centrist approach on policy issues, despite the divisive and contentious debate that has become “the new normal” in the Trump era. The group’s support for the resolution highly increases the likelihood it will pass.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are sworn in, January 3, 2019.
\ KEVIN LAMARQUE/ REUTERS

Rep. Brad Schneider (Democrat of Illinois) said in a statement: “This resolution makes clear that Congress continues to support preserving a path to a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with two peoples living side-by-side in peace, security and prosperity. Towards that end, we also oppose the Global BDS Movement, which seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel by denying the Jewish people’s claim to a homeland.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Republican of Pennsylvania) said: “Republicans and Democrats can both agree that any efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel must be condemned. I am proud to join members of the ‘Problem Solvers Caucus’ in strongly supporting this resolution to express our shared support for Israel and opposition to the deeply misguided BDS movement.”

Among the members who have released statements in support of the resolution are two Jewish Democrats who were elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms, and who are also veterans of the U.S. military.

Rep. Elaine Luria, who represents a district in Virginia, said: “As a Jewish veteran in Congress, it’s appalling that some see a boycott of Israel as a worthy policy aim. A good relationship between America and Israel strengthens both nations. The BDS movement is nothing short of extreme and unnecessary, and undermines the prospects for peace.”

Rep. Max Rose, who represents a district in New York, added: “We need real, lasting peace in the Middle East and I will not waiver in my strong support for the security of Israel and its people. I believe the BDS movement only seeks to further divide and push us from that goal, which is why I’m proud to support this resolution.”