American Jewish Committee to pressure Trump on 2-state solution

AJC seeks congressional signatures on letter to Trump saying 2-state solution is the only solution to Arab-Israeli conflict.


Trump and Netanyahu
Trump and Netanyahu
Hezki Baruch

JTA - The American Jewish Committee is rallying support for a congressional letter to President Donald Trump urging him to reaffirm support for a two-state solution, the latest signal that the liberal American Jewish establishment is committed to preserving the policy.

The American Jewish Committee is a Jewish advocacy group established in 1906 and active in civil rights issues and fighting all forms of discrimination. The AJC was silent during the Holocaust, not understanding the extent of Nazi genocide against the Jews. At first ambivalent towards Zionism, seeing itself as American in nature, it became a whole-hearted supporter of Israel after 1967. It was careful to remain neutral during the recent US presidential elections.

On Wednesday, the AJC sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives asking them to sign on and support the letter authored by Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and David Price, D-N.C., and other measures that preserve peacemaking options even though “current conditions do not provide grounds for optimism.”

The Jewish Insider first reported the lawmakers’ letter last week urging Trump to “reaffirm the United States’ long-standing bipartisan commitment to supporting a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Connolly and Price have accumulated more than 175 signatures, mostly Democrats, a Hill insider told JTA.

“At last count, there were just two Republicans signed on. The letter has yet to be sent,” the insider said.

The AJC letter is the latest salvo by establishment Jewish organizations to preserve the two-state solution in light of the Republican Party removing support for the outcome from its platform last summer and Trump more recently ending 15 years of U.S. explicit backing for the outcome, as well as the ascendance of voices in Israel favoring annexation of parts of the 'West Bank.'

Meeting last month with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Trump said he could live with whatever outcome the parties to the conflict favored, another lowering of the two-state solution's status.

Trump’s international relations envoy, Jason Greenblatt, is in the region this week assessing the likelihood of reviving Arab-Israeli peace talks.

“As the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is increasingly questioned, AJC maintains that the two-state solution is the only realistic resolution to the conflict and that withdrawing support for the two-state solution, short-cutting negotiations, or attempting to impose solutions risks creating a failed state – a danger to Israel, the region and beyond,” said the letter from Julie Rayman, the AJC’s director for political outreach.

“The United States and the international community must remain committed to the concept of two states for two peoples, existing side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition, and achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations.

The Reform movement and the Anti-Defamation League, which has veered towars the left since its change in leadership, also have been outspoken in recent months in backing two states.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee continues to back the outcome, albeit not as robustly, although Democrats close to the lobby – particularly Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee – have also spoken out in defense of the policy in light of Trump’s retreat.

Notably, AIPAC has no position on the Connolly-Price letter, while J Street, the leftist and pro-BDS (in Judea and Samaria) Jewish Middle East policy group, is actively lobbying for it. J Street’s influence, however, is limited to Democrats; AJC could conceivably draw in moderate Republicans, but there is as yet no evidence of that..

Separately, Jason Isaacson, AJC’s associate executive director for policy, wrote House members on March 10 urging them not to cut funding for the United Nations. Republicans in Congress are seeking to defund the United Nations unless it repeals a Security Council resolution approved in December that condemns Israel’s settlement policies.

“While the impulse to retaliate against ‘the United Nations’ for obsessive condemnation of Israel is understandable, it is short-sighted since Member States – and not the UN per se – are responsible,” Isaacson wrote, noting “modest” improvements in the U.N. posture on Israel as a result of engagement under the Obama administration.

“Should the U.S. cede its leadership at the UN, other States will rush to fill the vacuum, to the detriment of international peace and security,” Isaacson wrote. “Moreover, should the U.S. retreat at the UN General Assembly or UN Human Rights Council, other Member States will only increase their campaign to use these bodies as vehicles for attacking Israel.”

Isaacson did not refer specifically to Republican bids to defund the United Nations.

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