GOP platform reportedly may exclude ‘two-state’ language

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Republicans reportedly are considering removing from their party platform language calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The U.S. seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region,” said draft language approved Monday by the national security subcommittee of the platform committee, according to CNN, Jewish Insider and the Forward, which obtained the copies of the proposed language.

“We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so,” said the draft language, an apparent reference to Palestinian Authority efforts to seek statehood status outside the framework of negotiations.

The draft platform, which may change again before the Republican convention next week in Cleveland, omits the explicit call for a two-state solution that appeared in the 2012 platform: “We support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders; and we envision two democratic states – Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine – living in peace and security.”

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Additionally, the most recent draft restores the word “undivided” to recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The language was in the 2008 platform but did not appear in the 2012 platform.

The draft language as approved by the subcommittee also “reject(s) the false notion that Israel is an occupier,” CNN reported.

The full Platform Committee, meeting in Cleveland, is considering the proposals on Tuesday.

Democrats over the weekend rejected language that would have for the first time described Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an “occupation” that is detrimental to Palestinians. They retained language favoring a two-state outcome.

Driving the changes in the GOP platform is a new political action committee, the Iron Dome Alliance, which seeks to distinguish Republicans as friendlier to Israel than Democrats.

Mainstream pro-Israel groups, chief among them the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, have for decades maintained that there is little difference between the parties on Israel. Jeff Ballabon, a founder of the Iron Dome Alliance, said that pretending there are no differences between the parties does not serve Israel’s interests.

“This fiction floating around that pretending both parties are the same is good for Israel, it’s killing Israel,” Ballabon, a longtime pro-Israel activist in the Orthodox and Republican communities, told JTA last month. “It’s a race to the bottom. Demanding the two-state solution is only pressuring one side, and gives no incentive to the Palestinian Authority or any stakeholder to come to the table and be anything but belligerent.”

His group is structured as a “superpac,” so named because it is formulated under rules that allow it to raise unlimited funds.

AIPAC and other groups remain committed to a two-state solution in part because it is the stated position of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. However, the majority of Netanyahu’s current government rejects two-states as an outcome, favoring eventual Israeli sovereignty over much of the West Bank; that status provides shelter to right wing pro-Israel activists who can justifiably argue that they are not bucking Israeli government policy by not embracing two states, a rubicon that mainstream pro-Israel groups have been loathe to cross.

The Israeli opposition and much of Israel’s security establishment remains committed to two states, as does the Obama administration; those in favor cite among other arguments the dangers to Israel’s democracy of a one state outcome, which could necessitate the absorption of millions of Palestinians.

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