The Senate is warning Palestinians against undertaking any “negative” unilateral actions re Israel at the United Nations, and look who isn’t signing on to the letter that AIPAC has endorsed: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Folks have been pressing Warren and her staffers not to sign this letter – and she didn’t. Neither did Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Maybe the national publicity and pressure on these progressives over their Israel-Palestine positions moved them? Maybe they’re tacking ahead of 2016? Here are the 12 non-signers, from both parties:
Bernard Sanders (I), Bob Corker (R), Elizabeth Warren (D), Harry Reid*, Jeff Sessions (R), John D. Rockefeller IV*, Lisa Murkowski (R), Patrick J. Leahy* (D), Rand Paul (R), Tammy Baldwin (D), Tom Coburn (R), Tom Harkin* (D).
(*Majority leader/ senior committee chairs who don’t usually subscribe to these things)
Is this the beginning of a Senate “refuser caucus”? We can only hope. A friend who emailed the office of one liberal northeastern senator who did sign the letter got back this note:
Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Senator. I would like to share with you the J Street perspective on the letter if that helps.
J Street supported the letter, right alongside AIPAC. Another sign of JStreet as “AIPAC Lite” giving liberal cover for the Israel lobby agenda.
The text of the letter is up at New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte‘s site. It urges the State Department to keep Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities and governing Gaza, and to prevent the Palestinian Authority from going to the International Criminal Court.
Letter Presses Administration to Prevent Hamas from Rebuilding Military Capabilities and Calls for Gaza Demilitarization
Sep 23, 2014
Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group, announced that they’ve led a letter signed by 88 senators to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Administration to take steps to ensure that no assistance is diverted to Hamas, support the Palestinian Authority’s effort to govern in Gaza, and discourage Palestinian unilateral measures at the United Nations and International Criminal Court that bypass direct negotiations and undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Senators wrote, “As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:
September 23, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry,
We were pleased to see that Hamas finally accepted an Egyptian cease-fire plan last month. Sadly, Hamas continued its attacks on Israel for weeks after Egypt’s initial proposal, leading to unnecessary and increased suffering in Gaza and Israel.
As we look ahead to the next few months, we urge you to focus on three key objectives: (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
First, we fully support the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. We must also condition reconstruction assistance on the establishment of a system to prevent Hamas from rearming and rebuilding its military capability. In the past, Hamas has diverted construction materials intended for civilian use to the construction of the tunnel networks that were used during this last conflict to smuggle weapons and attack Israelis. We must support Israeli and Egyptian efforts to implement strict, comprehensive controls so that no assistance is diverted to Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The international community has twice spent billions to rebuild Gaza, only to see Hamas transform economic assistance into the means of war. For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, we cannot let this happen again. Ultimately, we must seek Gaza’s demilitarization.
Second, we must support efforts to enable the Palestinian Authority to exercise real power in Gaza. Hamas has demonstrated conclusively both that it has no interest in peace with Israel and that it has no concern for the well-being of Gaza residents. Meanwhile, the West Bank has experienced periods of significant relative economic growth and stability, in part due to cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces there. All Palestinians deserve a government that will seek to advance their safety and prosperity-not use them as human shields. Real peace between Israelis and Palestinians will require a Palestinian partner that controls the West Bank and Gaza, is focused on economic development and stability in both areas, and will accept Gaza’s demilitarization. We must start this process now.
Third, while we work with the Palestinian Authority to extend its effective jurisdiction to Gaza, we must work equally hard to ensure that Palestinian officials do not take further harmful steps at the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, or the International Criminal Court. The Palestinian Authority must avoid steps that would undermine the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We must let Palestinian Authority President Abbas know that America’s willingness to cooperate with him will continue to depend on his willingness to return to the negotiating table with the Government of Israel and avoid unilateral measures that bypass direct negotiations.
We look forward to working with you on these critical matters, as our nation strives both to prevent another Hamas-instigated war and to create the conditions that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to move closer to peace.
Kelly A. Ayotte
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
James M. Inhofe
Susan M. Collins
Edward J. Markey
Joe Manchin III
Michael F. Bennet
Kay R. Hagan
James E. Risch
Patrick J. Toomey
Benjamin L. Cardin
Mazie K. Hirono
Lindsey O. Graham
Mark L. Pryor
Michael B. Enzi
Barbara A. Mikulski
Orrin G. Hatch
Mary L. Landrieu
Roger F. Wicker
Charles E. Schumer
Christopher A. Coons
Mark R. Warner
Angus S. King, Jr.
Richard J. Durbin