Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Blog
House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have introduced a one-sided resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, H. Res. 268, to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), John Thune (R-SD), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA), and James Risch (R-ID) introduced a similar resolution, S. Res. 185, to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Both resolutions:
1) Blame the failure of the peace process on the Palestinians’ refusal to negotiate, ignoring Israel’s steps that have rendered productive negotiations impossible;
2) Seek to suspend US assistance to the national unity Palestinian government;
3) Call on the Obama Administration to veto Palestinian efforts to have a Palestinian state recognized by the United Nations.
H. Res. 268 states the following:
“…Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has consistently advocated for immediate direct negotiations with the Palestinians, who, in turn, have prevented negotiations by insisting on unprecedented pre-conditions”
The discord between such a statement and the glaring reality on the ground is quite substantial. Israel’s refusal to stop building settlements on Palestinian land (as required by international law), or to extend a partial moratorium on them (as urged by President Obama) led directly to the failure of the last round of talks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s out-of-hand rejection of viable Palestinian statehood (no to 1967 borders, no to Palestinian sovereignty over future borders, no to sharing Jerusalem, no negotiations over refugees) is the reason why Palestinians rightfully will not come to the negotiating table.
In 1948, Israel was not created through negotiations with the Palestinians, but by a UN vote in spite of Palestinian objections. That vote took place after the UN recommended the creation of two states: Israel and Palestine. More than 60 years later, the Palestinian state has yet to be created. For nearly two decades, the Palestinians have been trying to create their state through negotiations with Israel, but Israel has responded with growing settlements, barriers, and home demolitions, undermining the prospects for viable Palestinian statehood. It is now time for the Palestinians to seek UN recognition of their state the same way Israel sought its recognition. The US should not block such efforts.
PALESTINIAN UNITY GOVERNMENT
Unity among Palestinians is an important component of a lasting peace. US concerns about Hamas’s inclusion in the Palestinian unity government are understandable, but they should not lead to premature isolation or cutting of aid. Just as US aid to Israel is not conditional on the exclusion of certain parties from the democratic political process, US aid to the Palestinians should not be held to a different standard. The Palestinian unity government should be given a chance to demonstrate how funds it receives will not be used in harmful ways.
Urge your member of Congress to oppose H. Res. 268; and your Senators to oppose S. Res. 185. Tell them:
1) The bill is one-sided and unfairly demands more of the Palestinians than it does of Israel. The US should give the Palestinian unity government a chance to demonstrate that aid will not be misused.
2) The real obstacle to peace is Israel’s continued unilateral actions and Netanyahu’s out-of-hand rejection of a solution based on the 1967 lines, sharing Jerusalem, freezing settlements, or any discussion of the refugee question.
3) As long as the U.S. is unable to restrain the Israeli government’s illegal settlement expansion, or soften its rejectionist position on Jerusalem, borders, or refugees, the US should not obstruct Palestinian efforts to pursue statehood through the UN.
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