On August 12, Twenty-one Israeli lawmakers sent a letter to members of Congress criticizing a bill that condemned the boycott of Israel because it endorsed a two-state solution.
House Resolution 246 (H.Res.246) overwhelmingly passed in the House last month, with just 17 members voting against it. The resolution condemns the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, identifying it as a roadblock in the quest for a two-state solution. “We would like to make our position clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state would be far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” the letter reads. Signatories include Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (United Right), Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud), and MK Gideon Sa’ar (Likud).
The letter is addressed to the cosponsors of the bill–Rep. Brad Schneider (D-CO) , Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), all of whom are staunchly pro-Israel. According to The Jerusalem Post, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan helped develop the letter. Dagan has even criticized The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for promoting a two-state solution. “Unfortunately, in the last few years, AIPAC is independently advancing the two-state solution,” he told the paper, “AIPAC portrays the two-state concept as an Israeli interest to elected officials in America and as the official position of the Israeli government, even though this is untrue. The two-state concept is not the policy of the current government coalition, nor is it stated as policy in the agreements between the coalition partners. Furthermore, this is not the policy of the Trump administration, which has even removed it from the National Security Strategic Report.”
AIPAC lobbied for the House to pass H.Res.246 and referred to it as a “top priority” on their website. “It’s ironic that Israeli right-wingers are blaming AIPAC for pro-two state solution language in the recently passed congressional resolution opposing the Global BDS Movement,” tweeted J Street’s Dylan Williams, “because AIPAC tried really hard to strip out that language before introduction (and obviously failed).”
The letter also asserts that the resolution impedes the objectives of the Trump administration. “Pressure to establish a Palestinian state contradicts President Trump’s position, which he has stated many times — that the solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict shall be determined by the parties,” it reads. It declares that a Palestinian state would “undoubtedly be a dysfunctional terrorist state.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the only Republican to vote against the resolution. On Twitter, he shared the aforementioned Jerusalem Post article and wrote, “I took some heat for being the only Republican to vote NAY on this bill. I stand by my vote. 21 members of the Israeli Knesset had an issue with this bill, because they read it too.”
When asked about the letter by Jewish Insider, a spokesperson for Rep. Zeldin said, “The Congressman supports a strong U.S.-Israel partnership. The text of the resolution as it relates to negotiated peace on the ground in and around Israel is entirely consistent with longstanding policy. That part of the resolution was not new.”
“Whatever one’s views on BDS, the idea that it’s more deserving of censure than an Israeli occupation whose intended purpose is to prevent a [two-state solution] is obviously absurd,” tweeted Bernie Sanders foreign policy advisor Matt Duss in response to the letter, “But that’s Congress for you. In closing, anti-BDS hysteria is a con and Democrats should stop being suckers.”