Joe Walsh
Joe WalshOfficial Photo

Firebrand lawmaker Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) plans to introduce a bill in US House of Representatives expressing congressional support for Israel’s right to annex Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

The move comes as Palestinian Authority officials move forward over US objections with a controversial request for a declaration of statehood at the United Nations.

Walsh's resolution, modeled closely on a bill introduced in the Israeli Knesset, is the latest effort by Congress ahead of the proposed UN vote. Lawmakers from both parties returned from stints in Israel last month warning that Congress could seek to cut aid to the PA if they actually go ahead with the vote.

“We’ve got what I consider to be a potential slap in the face coming up with the vote in the UN, which is absolutely outrageous,” Walsh told reporters. 

“It’s clear that the United States needs to make a very strong statement. I would argue that the president should make this statement, but he’s not capable of making it. So, the House needs to make this statement, if the [Palestinian Authority] continues down this road of trying to get recognition of statehood, the U.S. will not stand for it. And we will respect Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria.”

On Thursday US officials said they would exercise their veto of any attempt to grant statehood to the PA at the UN Security Council. But that hasn’t stopped lawmakers in both countries from threatening the consequences of a declaration.

Walsh is moving forward with his resolution after meeting last month in Israel with Danny Danon, a deputy speaker of the Knesset and Likud Party member known for criticizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from the right. Earlier this year, Danon introduced a bill that would annex all of “Area C,” a large portion of the West Bank that includes Jewish settlements and rural lands but would spare the largest Palestinian cities. 

Danon is now leading a campaign to pressure Netanyahu to move forward with the unilateral annexation.

Walsh, who said he’d been considering a similar measure before arriving in Israel in August, confirmed that he and Danon “bounced some ideas off each other” on the resolution.

Danon argued in a New York Times op-ed earlier this year that a request from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for a UN statehood declaration would amount to a nullification of the Oslo Accords, which dictate that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” 

That means Israel would be free to unilaterally annex Judea and Samaria, he wrote.

In the op-ed, Danon downplayed the potential international consequences by pointing to past Israeli annexations as evidence the country could withstand international condemnation.

Walsh says he plans to spend the rest of the week gathering cosponsors.