WASHINGTON – As presidential candidate Mitt Romney prepares to travel to Israel, J Street, a pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group, is releasing a new video urging the presidential candidate to publicly stand with the last three Prime Ministers of Israel and decades of Republican and Democratic leaders in favor of a two-state solution.
The 60-second video draws a sharp distinction between the bipartisan two-state consensus, which has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for decades, and what J Street has coined the “One-State Caucus,” a small but vocal group of Members of Congress who “want to destroy any chance for a Palestinian state.” The video calls on Romney to make clear that “he stands with decades of Republican leaders who have stood for Israel and for peace,” because “It’s pro-Israel to stand for two states. Anything less is not.”
To date, Romney has been relatively circumspect when it comes to Israel, resisting the inclination of other candidates in the Republican field who have staked out positions to the right of Israel’s own government’s to burnish their “pro-Israel” credentials. While he has yet to declare whether he supports the two-state solution, Romney has been critical of President Obama’s efforts to achieve it. It has been widely speculated that a recent $100 million pledge to support Romney’s bid by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson could prove a determining factor in Romney’s stance.
Israel is one of only a few foreign policy issues to come to the fore in this election cycle, as many candidates for Congress and President alike vie for Jewish and evangelical support by staking out ever-more hawkish and ever-less tenable positions. In this cycle, it has become common parlance among these candidates to disparage and even deny Palestinian peoplehood, to express unqualified support for Israeli settlement beyond the 1967 lines and to liken US attempts to advance a diplomatic resolution to the conflict to betrayal of Israel.
The video is the latest in J Street’s ongoing campaign challenging the pro-Israel claims of the “One-State Caucus,” which was initiated by US Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) last fall when he sponsored a House resolution, signed by 44 other members, urging Israel’s annexation of the West Bank—a call that amounts to an end to Israel as a democratic homeland of the Jewish people. It comes on the heels of previous efforts targeting Representatives Joe Walsh (R-IL) and Allen West (R-FL), another charter member of the “One-State Caucus.”
Upon the announcement of Romney’s trip to Israel, J Street released a statement calling on the candidate to make clear whether “his vision for American policy is in line with the bipartisan approach of the last several Presidents who sought a diplomatic resolution to the conflict or with the views of some of his most right-wing funders who have opposed such a resolution.”