Jun 5, 2019

Scoop: Israel works to stop Senate resolution on two-state solution

Graham (L) with Netanyahu in Israel in 2015. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images

Israel is trying to prevent the Senate from passing a bipartisan resolution endorsing a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli officials and congressional staffers tell me.

Why it matters: The resolution could put pressure on the White House as it prepares to release its long-awaited peace plan.

The backdrop: Since President Trump entered the Oval Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backtracked on his public support for a two-state solution.

  • The Trump administration has been careful not to publicly endorse it either, despite longstanding policy from both Republican and Democratic administrations.
  • White House officials say they haven't supported the two-state solution because it means different things for the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The resolution for was drafted by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Israeli officials told me it could be tabled soon and — as a bipartisan measure backed by a close Trump ally like Graham — would be expected to win a substantial majority.

  • Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to Washington, and other Israeli embassy officials have been lobbying Graham and Van Hollen to remove the words "two-state solution" from the text, Israeli officials and congressional staffers told me.
  • The Israeli diplomats have told Graham and Van Hollen they don't oppose a general resolution calling for direct negotiations between the parties with no preconditions, so long as it doesn't deal with the end game or the parameters of such talks.

State of play: Graham and Van Hollen have so far rejected the Israeli lobbying efforts.

  • Bridgett Frey, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen, told me: “Both Senators Van Hollen and Graham are long-time supporters of a two-state solution and are working on the best way to advance that commitment in Congress."
  • The Israeli embassy in Washington did not deny this account but refrained from commenting.

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