Senators Introduce Resolution Supporting Two-State Solution in Middle East

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced a new Senate resolution expressing continued support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Merkley’s resolution calls out the unbreakable U.S.-Israel bond while acknowledging the Palestinian right to self-determination. It seeks to renew commitment to a two-state solution as the best way to achieve a lasting peace between the two parties and comes as this vision is under attack by hardliners on both sides. As Israel approaches another tense election cycle in the fall, it’s more critical than ever for the international community to work to ensure that a two-state solution remains on the table.

Merkley was joined on today’s resolution by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Tom Udall (D-NM).

The Trump Administration’s anticipated Middle East “peace plan,” drafted by the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may not adhere to the principles of past roadmaps for peace that reflected the longstanding, bipartisan U.S. policy promoting a negotiated two-state solution that supports the self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians. The future of the peace plan is in doubt following the recent decision to hold new elections in Israel and uncertainty regarding the elements of the plan.

“A two-state solution is the right path to ensure that Israel remains a Jewish and democratic state long into the future,” said Merkley. “Annexation of territory in the West Bank, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly contemplated, would cripple this path towards peace and undermine Israel’s long-term stability and security. The U.S. must remain steadfast in its support for a two-state solution, which is the world’s best hope to preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic nature while fulfilling the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”

“A two-state solution is the only way for Israel to retain its identity as both a Jewish and democratic state, and to recognize the Palestinians’ inherent right of self-determination,” said Feinstein. “The Trump administration’s actions have put the prospect of peace at risk. Our resolution will show that the United States remains committed to the two-state solution and being a neutral arbitrator in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

“The United States needs to be an honest broker in the Middle East. We need to defend Israel’s right to live in peace and security, while at the same time, end the occupation and protect Palestinians’ right to security and self-determination,” said Sanders. “I am proud to cosponsor this resolution to make clear that a two-state solution based on international law remains the best path to achieving a just and lasting peace, and is firmly in the interest of the United States.”

“The Trump Administration has never missed an opportunity to undermine a potential two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians,” said Warren. “This resolution calls on us to push towards both self-determination for Palestinians and security for Israel.”

“I strongly support our relationship with Israel.  But I believe the Palestinians need a homeland as well.  Two sovereign states – not a threat to one another,” Durbin said.  “I worry that the Trump Administration isn’t thinking clearly about how its Israel-Palestine strategy ends well, but today’s resolution shows that the U.S. Senate holds firm in its commitment to a two-state solution.”

“A negotiated two-state solution that ensures Israel remains a strong, democratic state and a homeland for the Jewish people and recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination is the best route to sustained peace in the region and is in the U.S.’s interest,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to join Sen. Merkley in reiterating our support for what has been longstanding bipartisan U.S. policy and urge the Trump Administration to do the same as it prepares to announce its plan to achieve peace.”

Merkley’s resolution notes the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, the long history of support from American presidents of both parties for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the fact that administrations of both parties have recognized settlement expansion as an impediment to peace.

The resolution calls for U.S. policy to support preserving conditions conducive to a negotiated two-state solution, and to explicitly endorse a two-state solution as the U.S.’s goal in peace negotiations. It also notes that unilateral annexation of portions of the West Bank would jeopardize prospects for a two-state solution and could undermine Israel’s security, and that a two-state solution is the best hope to preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic nature while fulfilling Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

The resolution is supported by J Street, the Israel Policy Forum, and Mercy Corps.

“A two-state solution remains the only viable way to secure Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people and to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. It’s absolutely vital that Congressional leaders like Senator Merkley are speaking out in defense of the two-state outcome — and making clear that any unilateral annexation of West Bank territory by the Israeli government would be disastrous for the long-term interests of Israelis, Palestinians and the United States,” said Dylan Williams, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at J Street.

“Preserving conditions for two states and not taking any steps toward unilateral annexation in the West Bank are commonsense positions that safeguard Israel’s Jewish and democratic status while supporting continuing security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This resolution from Senator Merkley and his colleagues takes an important step in standing up for these principles and defending Israel’s security. An eventual viable two-state solution is the only way to ensure a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace and a secure future for both peoples,” said Michael Koplow, Israel Policy Forum’s Policy Director.

The full text of the resolution is available here.