House moves ahead on long-stalled resolution supporting two states for Israelis and Palestinians

The House on Thursday overcame a final hurdle to bringing a controversial resolution supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict to the floor for a vote.

Lawmakers adopted two amendments meant to satisfy Republican and Democratic demands to achieve bipartisan consensus. Yet only about a dozen Republicans are likely to cross the aisle in a final vote, with the GOP criticizing the measure as redundant and partisan.

House Resolution 326 would put Congress on record supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict and is seen as countering the Trump administration’s efforts to propose a peace plan that does not include the achievement of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with a secure Jewish State of Israel.

The House vote on Thursday succeeded in adding two amendments to the resolution text and setting up a Friday vote on the full resolution.

The amendments reaffirmed U.S. military support for Israel and called for resumption of humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, which was cut by the Trump administration.

They worked to satisfy criticisms by some Republicans that the resolution did not go far enough recognizing unique threats against Israel’s security and sovereignty and counter efforts by progressive Democrats calling for conditioning military aid to Israel to push them into negotiations with the Palestinians.

To satisfy Democrats upset over the inclusion of military aid, an amendment was added affirming the importance of U.S. assistance to the Palestinians, underscoring their opposition to policies by the Trump administration.

The vote on the amendments fell largely along party lines, with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Justin Amash (I-Mich.) siding with Republicans in voting “no”.

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, told The Hill she voted against the amendments because she supports a one-state solution and criticized the resolution for not referring to Israel as occupying Palestinian territories.

She said she plans to speak out against the resolution before it goes for a full vote.

“I think with my direct ties of actually having not only a grandmother there, but a number of relatives, for us to truly get a peaceful resolution, I think we need to be honest brokers and tell the truth and the fact that the word occupation was taken out [of the resolution], it tells you that we’re not being honest.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus, told The Hill she doesn’t agree with the amendment reaffirming U.S. support for military aid but believes it more important to state clear support for a two-state solution.

“I’m not happy that that’s in there,” she said. “I think that it was the best we could negotiate and I think that it’s so important to restate our commitment to two states, that I’m going to vote for it.”

She said that passage of the resolution won’t stop calls from the progressive left to condition aid to Israel over its policies of settlement expansion and calls for annexing the West Bank and Jordan Valley, a position touched on by Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders.

“I’m still going to look at any aid package from the perspective of, is this aid being used for human rights violations that the United States would not come to stand by,” Jayapal said.

Democrats worked hard to bring Republicans on board to keep the resolution bipartisan, a stated goal of representatives to ensure maintaining strong support for Israel in both Democratic and Republican administrations.

But some GOP members maintain the resolution undermines the Trump administration ahead of any release of their expected peace plan, serves as a rebuke of the recent policy shift to recognize Israeli settlements as in line with international law and undermines typically bipartisan support for Israel.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), spoke out against the resolution as one of the most partisan votes in the chamber’s history.

“Support for Israel in this chamber has long been bipartisan, and for whatever reason, the majority is choosing to advance their resolution tomorrow that is going to have one of the most partisan votes to ever take place regarding Israel ever in the history of the House of Representatives. Congratulations,” he said on the House floor.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), the original sponsor of the resolution, said the main point is to counter efforts that make achieving a two-state solution more difficult, like calls by Israelis to annex territory or attempts by Palestinians to seek international recognition for statehood outside of direct negotiations. 
“The core of the bill is really … to encourage both parties not to do things that will lead away from the two sides coming together,” he said.
Tags Alan Lowenthal Bernie Sanders Justin Amash Lee Zeldin Pramila Jayapal Rashida Tlaib
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