Rep. Steve King
Rep. Steve King Reuters

One of President-elect Donald Trump’s closest congressional allies has proposed removing all references to two states from a congressional bid to condemn anti-Israel U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334.

The three-sentence amendment offered Wednesday by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to the resolution introduced earlier this week by Reps. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the committee’s top Democrat, simply calls for the removal of all paragraphs from the resolution that mention two states.

The amendment by King, a Tea Party Republican who was among the first and most enthusiastic backers of Trump during the primaries campaign, is the latest shot in an emerging battle between the GOP’s conservative wing and the party establishment. The former has retreated since 2002 from the party’s support for a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, while the latter continues to defer to the liberal pro-Israel community’s embrace of a two-state outcome.

A query to King went unanswered, as have requests for comment on the two-state issue to the Trump transition team.

It remains unclear how Republican Congress members will vote on the King amendment when the full resolution comes to the House floor on Thursday. The Republican Party at its convention over the summer removed from its platform language endorsing a two-state solution and conservatives have been pressing hard for its removal as U.S. policy. Democrats still strongly endorse an outcome of Israel existing alongside a state of 'Palestine' as the endgame for peace talks.

The Republican Party’s congressional leadership backs the Royce-Engel resolution, thus the rush for a vote. A competing resolution introduced this week by Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., another Tea Partier who is close to Trump, does not mention the two-state solution. Royce is likely to bury the Ross resolution in the committee he chairs.

In the Senate, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced a resolution Wednesday similar to the Royce-Engel measure, also emphasizing a two-state outcome while condemning last month’s Security Council resolution.

Unusually, co-sponsoring the Rubio-Cardin resolution are Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader. Party leaders rarely co-sponsor nonbinding resolutions. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which backs both resolutions, is lobbying hard for broad support.

McConnell in a statement signaled Republican fury with the Obama administration for allowing through the anti-Israel Security Council resolution in its final days be refraining from exercising US veto power .

“The decision taken by the President to abstain from this vote — to fail to act on behalf of an ally — represents a failure of leadership and judgment,” McConnell said.

The Obama administration’s abstention was the first time it allowed a Security Council resolution opposed by Israel to pass. President Barack Obama’s predecessors withheld vetoes on Israel-critical resolutions on multiple occasions, but none were so biased as to contradict UN Resolution 242 or so broad as to sweepingly define all Jewish life outside the 1949 Armistice Lines illegal.

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