On June 6, five Democratic Senators introduced a resolution denouncing Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign pledge to annex the West Bank. Two of those Senators, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, are currently running for the Democratic nomination for president.
The resolution was introduced by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. In addition to Warren and Sanders, he was also joined by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
The resolution regurgitates a number of platitudes typically associated with “The Peace Process”: there’s an embrace of former United States administrations, calls for a two-state solution, and a reference to Israel’s “unbreakable bond” with the U.S. However, it also takes aim at Netanyahu’s vow to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Days before Israel’s April 9th election, Netanyahu told Israeli Channel 12 TV, “I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians.” The resolution declares that “Israeli annexation of territory in the West Bank would undermine peace and Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”
“The United States needs to be an honest broker in the Middle East,” said Bernie Sanders in a statement, “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. 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.”
On June 8, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told The New York Times that Israel has the right to annex portions of the West Bank. However, an anonymous U.S. official told Reuters that, “no plan for unilateral annexation by Israel of any portion of the West Bank has been presented by Israel to the U.S., nor is it under discussion.”
Netanyahu proved victorious in April but was unable to form a governing coalition, so the country will hold a second election in September.