Wednesday, July 19, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Maryland’s U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen—members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—today issued the following joint statement with Vermont’s U.S. Senator Peter Welch:

“Let us start by being clear: We warmly welcomed the visit of President Herzog to the United States and support what he said in his Joint Session to Congress today. It is what he did not say that disappoints us. While he welcomed achieving peace with the Palestinians, he never mentioned the long-standing, bipartisan U.S. policy in support of a two-state solution, including President Biden’s call for ‘two states for two peoples’ with ‘both peoples enjoying equal measure of freedom and dignity.’ He rightly called for an end to any violence committed by Palestinians, but he did nothing to acknowledge the scourge of attacks and violence being committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinian villagers, which the heads of Israel’s security agencies have condemned as ‘terrorism.’ Nor did he address the extremist words and actions of key members of the current Israeli government.

“It’s plain to see that the current path threatens the future of democracy in Israel. We are at a fork in the road. Now is the time for all who care about Israel to work together on a negotiated agreement that honors the democratic traditions of Israel and respects the human rights of the Palestinian people.” 

Senators Merkley and Van Hollen recently returned from a congressional delegation to Israel and the West Bank.