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New Senate resolution: will “one-staters” sit on their hands?

There is a good chance that there is no hope. It may well be impossible to unravel the Gordian knot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But there will certainly be no hope unless the U.S. gets more actively engaged and takes a more balanced approach. That is a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Americans for Peace Now, Churches for Middle East Peace, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, American Task Force on Palestine and other groups are trying to drum up support for a new Senate resolution urging the U.S. to step up diplomatic efforts, appoint a special envoy and other steps.

It’s just a symbolic resolution. It has no teeth. It isn’t provocative or particularly daring or even satisfying. I wish it called for more explicit American actions that would put obstacles in the path of, for example, settlement expansion.

But AIPAC specializes in resolutions that are symbolic and have no teeth. They send a constant set of public signals that Congress supports right-of-center Middle East policies. At least this one sends a different signal. Its message is that Congress has no patience with the Administration’s refusal to take this issue off the back burner (at least that’s the spin I would put on it, if anyone asked me).

It occurs to me that all of the advocates of a one-state solution –and most of the agnostics about a two-state solution– who populate the left won’t be willing to endorse this kind of Congressional action. I presume, for example, that Jewish Voices for Peace and most of its members would not embrace it or, more importantly, pick up the phone and call their Senators about it.

Among other things, this resolution calls for a “true and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of 2 states, the State of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, with recognized borders.”

Distant as this goal might be, it is the only one that has a chance to get any consequential political support in this country. Unless Congress and/or the Executive Branch are ready and willing to change U.S. policy so that is it not tilted entirely to one side in the conflict, it will not be changed. So, am I correct in assuming that it is impossible for you one-staters and agnostics to get behind this admittedly weak but still worthy Senate action? If it is impossible, then how do you folks propose to effect any meaningful change of American policy in order to address the plight of Palestinians in the territories? What’s your political plan?

Here is APN’s description and call-to-action:

A resolution signaling strong support for U.S. engagement to achieve progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace may be brought to a vote on the Senate floor this week. The resolution was originally introduced last month by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) and has 15 cosponsors (the text has been modified slightly to reflect the recent troubling developments in Gaza).

The resolution is expected to be resubmitted with a new bill number before it is voted on. In addition to the 15 existing cosponsors (a list of which can be found here), Senators Wyden (D-OR), Kohl (D-WI), Bingaman (D-NM), Burr (R-NC), and Snowe (R-ME) will reportedly also cosponsor the resolution.

The resolution:

reaffirms the Senate’s commitment to a “true and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of 2 states, the State of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, with recognized borders;”

calls on President Bush to “pursue a robust diplomatic effort to engage the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, begin negotiations, and make a 2-state settlement a priority;”

urges the President to “consider appointing as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace an individual who has held cabinet rank and has extensive experience in the region;”

calls on moderate Arab states in the region “to intensify their diplomatic efforts toward a 2-state solution” and “welcomes the Arab League Peace Initiative;”

calls on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “embrace efforts to achieve peace and refrain from taking any actions that would prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations.”

Now more than ever, serious, sustained, high-level U.S. engagement and leadership are vital to salvaging the hopes for peace and a stable, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This resolution sends a strong signal to the U.S. Administration, and to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, that Congress wants this kind of leadership.


Please call your Senators. Urge them to cosponsor the updated version of S. Res. 224, also known as the Feinstein-Lugar resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or if they are already cosponsors, thank them for doing so).

To reach your Senators, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with the Senator’s office.

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