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September 12, 2019 2:24 pm

US House Resolution Backing Two-State Solution ‘Stalled’ Until After Israeli Elections

avatar by Laura Kelly

The US Capitol Building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Congress is deadlocked over a resolution supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, even as members push to bring the resolution to a vote shortly after next week’s Knesset elections and before the impending release of the Trump administration’s peace plan.

The resolution, authored by Reps. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee before the August recess but failed to come to the floor with a slew of other Israel-related bills, as Democrats debated over specific language included in the resolution.

The bill has also failed to garner Republican support, even as legislation and resolutions including similar language have passed the House with strong bipartisan support. A more controversial resolution, opposing efforts by the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to delegitimize the State of Israel [H.Res. 246], was approved by the House in July with overwhelming bipartisan support.

That resolution included support for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians for “a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state — living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.”

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In consideration of the Lowenthal resolution, however, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel (D-NY) sought to amend text that “only the achievement of a two-state solution” would solve the conflict, leaving open Congress’s support for any resolution to the conflict, as long as it is negotiated between the two sides.

“We’re hopeful that the chairman will finally file it so that it can be brought up to vote,” Rep. Connolly, co-sponsor of the bill, told The Algemeiner.

“I don’t know the particulars, I just know that he had not filed it before the recess,” he added. “And I don’t know what the technical glitch that happened or what, but we certainly hope that’s been resolved and that we can bring it up quickly.”

Chairman Engel’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Annaliese Davis, a spokeswoman for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), said he was still discussing the legislation with members.

Some Democratic and pro-Israel members are feeling more urgency to bring the resolution to the floor, following statements earlier this week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a bid for reelection, his intention to annex the Jordan Valley and that he has the support of President Donald Trump.

“It’s reached a point where some adult in the room, like the rest of the world, is saying, ‘Slow down, we’re your friends, this is not the way,’” Rep. Lowenthal told The Algemeiner, regarding his support of the resolution and fear of annexation.

President Trump’s Middle East peace team, including Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, David Friedman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have deflected when discussing whether their plan includes support of a two-state solution. The publication of the political component of the plan is anticipated after the Sep. 17 Israeli elections, with an economic portion having been released in June.

“I think the real issue will be what is going to be the US position, I would like to get it out personally, before the Trump proposal comes out,” Rep. Lowenthal added.

One Democratic member of Congress, speaking on background to discuss negotiations, described the resolution as “stalled,” but that the understanding is it could be brought to the floor with the formation of a new Israeli government.

Rep. Lowenthal said, “We want to see a two-state solution and we do not want to see annexations and that’s only going to occur after the elections.”

The resolution has at least 183 co-sponsors, and passed out of HFAC without any recorded opposition from Republican members, yet none have signed on.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a member of the HFAC, said he supported the resolution but felt that stating “only” a two-state solution for solving the conflict puts restrictions on other avenues toward peace.

“I’m supportive of that [H.Res. 326]. But ultimately it’s gonna come down to Israel and Palestine, what the best solution is,” he said. “The one that’s most commonly talked about is a two-state solution. But ultimately it’ll be up to them, and we’ll support the solution they think is best for their countries.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), also a member of HFAC, criticized the resolution as an empty statement and reiterated a call for the House to pass hard legislation against BDS – couched in the Senate passed S.1, Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East, and currently in a discharge petition in the House — as a way to build on the passage of the July bipartisan resolution.

“There should be strong bipartisan support for doing something on the statement we just made as opposed to trying to get bipartisan support on a weaker statement we just made. It’s going in the wrong direction,” he said.

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