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February 16, 2022 12:52 pm

NY Dem. Torres Blasts Opposition to Abraham Accords as Bowman Drops Support: ‘Makes No Sense Even by the Distorted Logic of BDS’

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Congressman Ritchie Torres endorses Andrew Yang for his candidacy for Mayor of New York City on Morningside Drive in New York on January 14, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA

US Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) on Wednesday slammed opposition to the normalization deals between Israel and Arab states, saying it “makes no sense even by the distorted logic of the BDS movement.”

The progressive Democrat’s remarks came after Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) revealed he was dropping support for the Israel Relations Normalization Act, a bill in Congress aiming to strengthen the 2020 Abraham Accords.

“One cannot claim to oppose the economic and diplomatic isolation of Israel yet oppose the Abraham Accords because it fails to economically and diplomatically isolate Israel. That makes no sense even by the distorted logic of the BDS movement,” Torres said in a Twitter thread.

“One can and should advocate for Palestinian dignity and sovereignty without delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state or delegitimizing the Abraham Accords as a bona fide breakthrough for peace,” he asserted. “The Abraham Accords prevented the annexation of the West Bank, which, had it not been prevented, would have foreclosed even the possibility of a two-state solution. Thank God cooler heads prevailed.”

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Torres did not mention his fellow New York Democrat, but his comments came after revelations on Tuesday that Bowman was withdrawing his support for the Israel Relations Normalization Act. The bill would commit the US to develop a strategy for expanding the Abraham Accords, which led to ties between the Jewish state and United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

In a recent letter to constituents obtained by Jewish Insider, Bowman said he was dropping his co-sponsorship of the bill and would vote no if it comes to a House vote.

“While I originally co-sponsored the Israel Relations Normalization Act seeing it as an opportunity to make progress toward justice and healing in the Middle East as well as a path to a two state solution, my experience on the ground and further conversation with constituents led me to see that it is not the right step to fulfill these goals,” Bowman wrote.

“Furthermore, I became aware that the deals that this bill supports and seeks to pursue, have included deals at odds with human rights and safety for everyday people in the region, including the recognition of Morocco’s control over Western Sahara, and conversations about arms sales with the United Arab Emirates,” he continued.

“In the end, it is my estimation that these actions will only escalate violence in the Middle East and make already vulnerable communities less safe,” he claimed. “This agreement to normalize relations unhelpfully isolates Palestine and Western Sahara when what we need is a process that engages them.”

A member of the “Squad” of progressive House lawmakers, Bowman has faced both backlash from some constituents for past criticism of Israel, and more recently, pressure from left-wing activists over his perceived support for the Jewish state.

In November, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) members sought to expel Bowman as because of his opposition to the BDS movement.

The DSA has also castigated Bowman for a visit to Israel last year his vote in Congress in favor of renewed funding for Israel’s pioneering Iron Dome anti-missile system.

“Our platform proudly states continued support for and involvement with the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and efforts to eliminate US military aid to Israel, while resisting the ‘normalization’ of relationships between the Israeli government and other governments,” the DSA said in November, promising to meet with Bowman over the issue.

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