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Elizabeth Warren has a plan for Palestine (that’s a lot like the one that has failed its people for decades)

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The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) asked the 2020 Democratic candidates to answer a series of questions on important foreign policy topics. Yesterday Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren submitted her responses to the twelve questions, one of which was on the topic of Israel/Palestine.

The seventh inquiry on the questionnaire reads, “Do you support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if so, how would you go about trying to achieve it?”

Warren responds with two paragraphs. Here’s the first one:

I believe in the worth and value of every Israeli and every Palestinian. The way we respect all parties is through a two-state solution – an outcome that’s good for U.S. interests, good for Israel’s security and its future, and good for Palestinian aspirations for dignity and self-determination. To achieve this, there must be an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip living alongside Israel. 

This is boilerplate stuff and not exactly controversial. Nonetheless, Republicans attacked Warren for similar sentiments this past July after she told IfNotNow activists that she would work to end the occupation. As Robert Mackey pointed out at The Intercept at the time, not only does Warren’s position echo that of many presidents before Trump, the late Israeli Prime Minister (and war criminal) Ariel Sharon also called for an end to the occupation. “The idea that we can continue holding under occupation — and it is occupation, you might not like this word, but it’s really an occupation — to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is, in my opinion, a very bad thing for us and for them,” Sharon said in 2003.

Warren’s second paragraph is a little more interesting:

As president, I would take immediate steps to reestablish America’s role as a credible mediator by welcoming the Palestinian General Delegation back to Washington and reopening an American mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. I would also make clear that in a two-state agreement both parties should have the option to locate their capitals in Jerusalem, as all previous serious plans have acknowledged. We should immediately resume aid to the Palestinians and financial support to UNRWA, and focus real financial and political resources on fixing the man-made humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip. I will oppose incitement to violence and support for terrorism by Palestinian extremists like Hamas. And I will make clear my unequivocal opposition to Israeli settlement activity and to any moves in the direction of annexation of the West Bank. 

It’s unclear when the United States could have ever been viewed as a “credible mediator” in the conflict, but Warren is presumably referencing the policies of President Obama. While that administration certainly had its dustups with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and offered more hopeful rhetoric than previous governments, Obama failed to stop settlement expansion, hold Israel accountable in any way on a global stage, or stop its siege of the Gaza Strip. He also signed a record-breaking military aid deal with the country before leaving office, securing Israel $38 billion over the next decade. Assessing Obama’s Israel/Palestine legacy at the end of his final term, Josh Ruebner wrote:

Ironically, as the president most rhetorically supportive of Palestinian rights and most energetic in his pursuit of Palestinian statehood prepares to leave office, his legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will not be as peacemaker. Instead, the prospects for a negotiated two-state resolution—the formal U.S. policy goal since the waning days of the Clinton administration—appear dim, if not irretrievably extinguished. For this, the ever-rightward drifting Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vetoed the possibility of a Palestinian state, bears primary responsibility. But it was the willful policy choices of the Obama administration that abetted and facilitated this Israeli rejectionism. That, unfortunately, is Obama’s tarnished legacy.

Warren’s desire to return to this era is even more problematic when superimposed over the current reality. While Netanyahu is openly calling for annexation in the West Bank and the country’s right-wing is declaring that a free Palestine would “be a dysfunctional terrorist state”, nearly all of Washington stands opposed to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement–a nonviolent campaign that aims to succeed where United States liberals have failed for decades, holding Israel accountable on human rights issues.

Warren also seems to be saying she wouldn’t move the United States’ Israel embassy out of Jerusalem, despite the Trump administration’s controversial decision to move it there from Tel Aviv. She’s certainly not alone on this. While a number of candidates have criticized the decision, no one has indicated that they’d actually reverse it.

Not once in her response does Warren touch the idea of conditioning aid to Israel. Telling Israel that she opposes expansion settlement and annexation wouldn’t be expected to have much impact while her administration is giving the country over $3 billion a year. Warren’s refusal to broach the subject now puts her to the right of most Democratic voters. According to a report recently put out by Data For Progress, a staggering 64% of Dem voters support conditioning aid to Israel over human rights violations, while just 11% oppose the policy.

Despite these stats, only two candidates have even floated the idea of conditioning aid. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has now mentioned it numerous times, most recently saying, “The United States government gives a whole lot of money to Israel and I think we can leverage that money to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel.” This idea is extremely vague (how one would even quantify what constitutes racism in a state like Israel is an open question) and no one has pressed him to offer more specifics.

Surprisingly, the only candidate to offer a specific example of how they’d condition Israeli aid has been South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. In June, Buttigieg gave a speech in which he declared that he wouldn’t allow U.S. aid to be used by Israel in order to annex the West Bank. Some outlets reported that Buttigieg had called for cutting aid to Israel, but the text of his speech makes it clear that he would only look to stop the money from being used for annexation. “A two-state solution that achieves legitimate Palestinian aspirations and meets Israel’s security needs remains the only viable way forward and it will be our policy to support such a solution actively,” he said. “And if Prime Minister Netanyahu makes good on his promise to annex West Bank settlements, he should know that a President Buttigieg would take steps to ensure that American taxpayers won’t help foot the bill.”

Buttigieg’s idea raises some questions and there’s a big obvious one: if aid can be conditioned to impact the future, hypothetical humans rights violations by Israel, then why wouldn’t a Buttigieg administration use that method to stop human rights violations that are currently happening? For instance, the occupation that Buttigieg claims he opposes.

It also remains to be seen what these kinds of Democratic criticisms begin to look like in post-election Israel. Neither Netanyahu nor his chief opponent Benny Gantz was able to form a majority government, but Netanyahu has been nominated to form its next one. In his June speech Buttigieg makes it clear that his issue was with Israel’s specific government and that he’s a consistent supporter of the country. “Just as an American patriot may oppose the policies of an American president, a supporter of Israel may also oppose the policies of an Israeli right-wing government,” he said. “Especially when we see increasingly disturbing signs that the Netanyahu government is turning away from peace.”

There’s early signs that Buttigieg would be more receptive to a Blue and White government. He recently praised the Joint List’s backing of Gantz. “It’s remarkable,” he told Jewish Insider. “I don’t know how that reverberates in terms of the domestic calculations that Gantz has to make, but there is some possibility of growth and unity in that somewhere. I’d like to find out what it actually leads to.”

Much like Warren’s vision, it presumably leads to more of the same for Palestinians.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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12 Responses

  1. JWalters on September 25, 2019, 6:57 pm

    Buttigieg says if the Israelis want to rob and slaughter another mass of Palestinians, well, he won’t pay for it.

    That sounds like a platform written by the Israelis.

    First, it’s entirely a statement about a material transaction (like Jared’s plan). As if human rights and justice are irrelevant. As if the American people won’t care so long as it doesn’t cost them money.

    Second, it implicitly gives the Israelis a green light for another massive land theft, and the inevitable ethnic cleansing to keep the land “pure”.

    Third, it sounds sort of tough on the Israelis at first glance, while being a swindle at its core.

    This possibility would be entirely consistent with Buttigieg being a huge recipient of oligarchy money, and sitting in on an early “stop Bernie” meeting of the oligarchy wing of the Democratic party, despite being a virtual unknown politically. Buttigieg may have been tapped as an oligarchy political tool while in the Middle East, and bankrolled to become Mayor as a starting point. They may not have expected to run him for president so soon, but the emergency situation required it.

  2. eljay on September 25, 2019, 8:19 pm

    Warren’s plan seems an awful lot like jon s’ plan for Zionist “peace”. In both plans, Israel:
    – remains a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”;
    – gets to keep as much as possible of what it has stolen, occupied and colonized;
    – is absolved of its obligations under international law; and
    – is absolved of responsibility and accountability for past and on-going (war) crimes committed.

    No Partion borders; no FCoJ; no end to “Jewish State” supremacism; and no mention of RoR, accountability or reparations. You can really tell that Warren believes “in the worth and value of every Israeli and every Palestinian”.

  3. gamal on September 26, 2019, 5:23 am

    “Much like Warren’s vision, it presumably leads to more of the same for Palestinians”

    but things are moving how will Sanders and Warren et al respond? there are some things one can always rely on.

    “Nobel Prize winner calls for boycott of Israel
    George P. Smith, the 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, called for a boycott of Israel during his lecture Thursday morning at the 14th Hancock Symposium.”

  4. Misterioso on September 26, 2019, 9:33 am


    “All Points Alert: Killer State at Large” The Palestine Chronicle, Sept. 20/19, by Jeremy Salt

    “The most important news coming out of occupied Palestine last week was not the blow delivered to Benyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu or Gantz, it will be business as usual, now that the elections are over: more attacks on Gaza, possibly a large-scale war on Gaza, possibly a war on Lebanon, or Iran, who would know, as Israel always has a profusion of targets.
    No, the most important news was not the elections but the killing of a Palestinian woman in the West Bank, only a few days after a 10-year-old boy, Abd al Rahman Yasir Shtewi, had been shot in the head by a soldier near the northern West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum during a demonstration over the closure of an access road. He was taken to hospital in critical condition.

    “The woman, Alaa Wahdan, was shot with an assault rifle as she walked towards a checkpoint near the Qalandiya refugee camp, built for refugees after the massacres and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Lydda and Ramle in 1948.

    “She was walking on the road, having missed the pedestrian lane allotted to the Palestinians. That was the crime for which she had to die. She was told to stop. According to the five heavily armed men who blocked her way, she pulled out a knife, a small yellow-handled thing photographed lying on the road. Alaa was five to seven meters away and the knife could have been knocked away with the butt of a gun but one of the armed men shot her instead, the bullet apparently severing an artery in her leg.

    “Alaa fell to the road and was left there unattended for half an hour, bleeding to death. The Palestinian Red Crescent said it was prevented from attending to her. The soldiers watched her drag herself along the roadside on her front, the blood pouring out of her body, leaving a long, wide red stain behind her. Not one of them made any attempt to comfort her or staunch the wound. They watched her bleed to death. They let her die, in line with unstated state policy.

    “Who Alaa was precisely, a mother, a sister, a daughter or an aunt, was of no interest to the occupiers. She was a down-page story in the media, not even worthy of being given a name, no more than the African ‘terrorists’ of the 1940s or 50s were worthy of being given a name by the British or French occupiers of their land who tortured and murdered them. In the words of Mickey Rosenfeld, the police gauleiter of occupied Jerusalem, she was no more than a ‘female terrorist’ who was ‘injured moderately.’ If this is so, Mr Rosenfeld, why did she die?

    “In the background, while Alaa crawled along the road, her lifeblood draining away, the spivs, the thieves and the war criminals quarreled over who should be next to take over the occupation of Palestine. The choice was between Netanyahu and Gantz, the outcome of the elections so close that the ‘kingmaker’ will be Avigdor Lieberman, the Moldovan immigrant who arrived in Palestine when he was 20 and lives with his wife and children on Palestinian land in the settlement of Nokdim.

    “Like Menahim Begin in the 1970s, Lieberman was once regarded as a thug and fanatic who would never make it into the mainstream of Zionist politics but as the mainstream has shifted further right year by year it finally reached him. He once advocated the bombing of the Aswan dam as a means of shutting up the Egyptians. He thinks the ‘Arab’ members of the Zionist ‘parliament’ are the allies of terrorists.

    “He wants Muslim and Christian Palestinians to be required to swear an oath of loyalty to a state which has declared itself to be a Jewish, which has practically stripped them bare of all they possess and which plans to keep going until nothing is left.

    “His philosophy can be summed up in his own words: ‘Whoever is against us there’s nothing to do …. We have to lift up an axe and remove his head … otherwise we won’t be here.’ The option of handing back part of what has been stolen as a means of making peace is not even within his realm of thinking.

    “As for Netanyahu, his campaigning was nakedly racist. He warned against an ‘Arab’ party ending up in government and his Likud party stationed cameras outside polling booths to intimidate Palestinians and prevent them from voting. It didn’t work. They turned out in higher numbers than ever. It is the measure of this individual’s vile nature that he wanted to attack Gaza either to win or postpone the elections, riding to eventual victory over the bodies of more dead Palestinian men, women and children.

    “Gantz got in his way, but only for the same electoral reason, because he also is a killer of Palestinians, and currently the subject of prosecution in the Netherlands for the bombing of an apartment building in Gaza in 2014 which killed six members of the same family.

    “As the Palestinians well know, it makes no difference which of the parties is in power because their policies – more war, more killing, more settlements, with annexation now only a few steps away – are all the same.

    “The pathology of the Zionists puts them beyond reason. They do not connect up with any laws or values except their own and trying to reason with them on the basis of international law and universal values is a waste of time, pebbles thrown against the side of a tank.
    In 2013 Mehdi Hassan interviewed Dani Dayon as the centerpiece of an Oxford Union debate. Until recently Dayon was the head of the Yesha settler council. Sitting in the front row, Ghada Karmi, born in Al Quds to a family that owns land on the West Bank taken over by foreign settlers like Dayon, had to endure the lies and delusions that flowed from this man’s mouth. Cutting through the arrogance and his smiling, self-assured attempts to deceive the audience, she told him what he actually was in her eyes and the eyes of the world – a common thief.

    “There is no mystery about what has ‘happened’ in Palestine. There is no ‘conflict of rights,’ ‘contested narratives’ or ‘disputed’ ownership. These are all propaganda phrases designed to conceal the indisputable reality. From the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, Palestine has been stolen by people whose moral right to stay there can only be conferred on them by the people whose land they have stolen. Had they ever accepted this principle, had they ever apologized for their crimes, had they agreed to share instead of wanting to take the lot, using all the brutal means at their disposal, this moral right could have been secured but they forfeited this possibility long ago, preferring endless war to the possibility of peace. There is no ‘two state’ solution in sight. Add it to the list of myths still being purveyed. There is no solution in sight at all, at least not one based on rational discussion and the application of international.

    “There is no statute of limitations here. The land was stolen and will remain stolen no matter how long the Zionists hold it. There is no ‘land of Israel’. There is no ‘Temple Mount’ and no ‘tomb of the patriarchs’ in Hebron. These are all deceptions sitting atop a mountain of lies intended to bury the truth. There is Palestine, there is the Haram al Sharif, the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, where the settler state pogrom against the Palestinians continues without pause, and countless other sites on the map, all of them occupied and renamed. Not a drop of water in the sea or a speck of sand on the beach belongs to the Zionists. It has all been stolen.

    “As soon as the elections were over, ‘kingmaker’ Lieberman, leading the party of Russian ‘immigrants’ to an illegally occupied land, started stitching together a ‘national unity’ government. As excited or as preoccupied with the process as the Zionist population of Palestine might be, there is no prospect of change for the Palestinians except change for the worse.

    “Gantz is as much a warmonger as Netanyahu or Lieberman and as the Palestinians will continue to resist occupation of their land where and when they can, as is their natural right and their right under international law, more large-scale violence is only a matter of time. In their arrogance the Zionists are ignoring all the warning signs, the cries of ‘death to Israel’ from the Houthis, the tens of thousands of missiles in Hizbullah’s armory and the determination of Iran to defend itself and its allies. The Zionists can kick the Palestinians around, but not these powerful enemies, who have behind them the support for Palestine of Muslims everywhere, not to speak of the numerous defenders of Palestine and Palestinian rights in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and many other countries.

    “The Zionists came to the Middle East as a ‘rampart’ of ‘western civilisation’ and that is where they have remained, on the ramparts, behind the palisades, the fences and the wall, fencing others out and fencing themselves in. They wanted to be in the Middle East but not of the Middle East. It was beneath them. They hijacked those aspects of its culture that suited them but looked down with contempt on the rest and they still do.

    “In any case, western domination was the accurate phrase, not western civilization. The ‘west’ has never been civilized, not in the Middle East or in any other lands against which it went to war and occupied. Rather, it has been utterly barbaric, as the word is generally understood, and Zionism has been part of that barbarism.

    “Not wanting to be part of the Middle East except on its own unacceptable terms, Zionism has to rely on powerful outside backers, a role currently filled by one of them, the United States. However, will it always be there to give the Zionist state the support it demands, will it always be capable of giving it the support it demands, will it ultimately be willing to put its own life on the line for a small state far away that is held in contempt by much of the world, not for bad reasons but for perfectly understandable ones, and one that is held in contempt as well by an increasing number of Americans?

    “Only arrogance could be the reason for the willingness of the Zionists to stake their future on such uncertainties, when for a small price, except in their own greedy eyes, they could have secured their place in the Middle East long ago. There is one other reason for their confidence, though, and that is their possession of nuclear weapons. At the worst, backs finally against the wall, they can take everyone down with them.

    “Take a serial killer out of the psychiatric ward, hand him a machine-gun and wait to see what happens. That is the prospect ahead of the Middle East as long as the Zionist state remains a killer at large.”

  5. Mustacq Abdullah on September 26, 2019, 11:22 am

    Don’t these leaders of the Western capitalist world ever hear what they say? How can they they make fools of themselves again and again? They trying to sell the Palestinian people down the drain, they are aiding the Zïonist Occupiers and they are ignoring the expanding settlements on Palestinian lands – AND THEY STILL CALL THEMSELVES “CREDIBLE BROKERS”? Really?

  6. ancientenough on September 26, 2019, 11:51 am

    Great article and commentary, Mr. Arria, Misterioso and Mr. Salt.

    Agreed, and every day more and more Americans people are becoming aware they’ve been taken for a ride, tax dollars and diplomacy-wise, by the Israel Lobby, the American government and their leaders.

    They’re starting to learn something’s not right with our foreign policy, endless war and support for Israel and Saudi Arabia and mindless anti-Iran palaver, to the extreme detriment of addressing and fixing, to the extent possible, our myriad domestic problems and needs. For example, witness the Brown University Watson Institute Costs of War project and reports circulating into the mainstream media.

    A tipping point may be reached in the near future. Those in America with Jewish heritage (and I include myself in that category), should be concerned about a perhaps over-reactive anti-Semitism erupting, which will make the anti-Semitism of the past seem like child’s play.

  7. genesto on September 26, 2019, 1:39 pm

    Warren has shown little, or no, interest in foreign policy – at least not nearly to the extent she has towards domestic policy. Consequently, she falls back on tired old talking points, long since rendered outdated, and dangerous, by her progressive base. It’s the reason that, despite her visionary policies on the domestic front, I can’t support her for President.

    Oh, and there’s really no need to mention that a particular Israeli prime minister is a war criminal (in this case, the beloved Ariel Sharon). They are ALL war criminals, particularly the two leading candidates for running the next government, Bibi and Gantz.

    Maybe we should just save our breath and call all of them prime war criminals!

  8. Brewer on September 26, 2019, 11:27 pm

    Hillary lite.

  9. pgtl10 on September 27, 2019, 11:43 am

    There’s early signs that Buttigieg would be more receptive to a Blue and White government. He recently praised the Joint List’s backing of Gantz. “It’s remarkable,” he told Jewish Insider. “I don’t know how that reverberates in terms of the domestic calculations that Gantz has to make, but there is some possibility of growth and unity in that somewhere. I’d like to find out what it actually leads to.”

    No where. Gantz already shunned them and is planning a unity government. Jewish politicians are mostly never going to look at the Palestinian politicians as a nuisance only there so Westerners can make believe there is a democracy there.

  10. RobertB on September 27, 2019, 2:16 pm

    Warren’s zionist handlers have already placed a heavy duty bridle over her head and a steel bit in her mouth; she knows who she has to please and answer to!

  11. Citizen on September 28, 2019, 4:00 am

    Thread by @areltahry: “Elizabeth Warren V. Palestine: This is a thread on Elizabeth Warren’s major (but not comprehensive) history and currenalestine, in 14-points. Please share widely. 1a) At the height of Israel’s massive, 51-day massacre of Gaza t […]”

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