J Street to Republican Party: Maintain Support for the Two-State Solution

July 11, 2016


To: Republican Party Platform Drafting Committee
From: J Street
Re: Israel- and Palestinian-related Provisions of the Platform
Date: July 11, 2016

For decades, US foreign policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has rested on a broad bipartisan consensus with administrations, both Democratic and Republican, sharing a deep commitment to Israel’s security and wellbeing while working toward the goal of achieving peace in the region. Since the Republican platform of 2004, which stated, “We support President Bush’s vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,” the Republican Party has recognized that the way to achieve this is through the two-state solution. This remains the official position of the Israeli government – as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated on many occasions.

This position has become tremendously important as peace efforts themselves have faltered. The solid support of Israel’s friends and allies in the Republican Party for a two-state solution has encouraged those working for peace and justice and allowed the United States to exercise a moderating influence against forces which seek to destabilize the region in pursuit of extremist agendas.

Yet there are those in the Republican Party who seek to change the platform, moving away from the two-state solution toward policies that would embolden those in Israel who seek to annex all or part of the West Bank.

We believe this is a formula for endless and permanent conflict that will further destabilize an already unstable region. Critically, it could also seriously undermine Israel’s mission to remain both a democracy and a homeland for the Jewish people worldwide.

J Street believes a balanced, pro-Israel platform should include the following essential elements:

1. Israeli Security and Palestinian Self-determination

For years, the Republican platform has rightly sought to establish the Party’s deep commitment to meeting the essential needs of Israelis. Yet the Palestinians are also a people with needs and aspirations – and these should also be openly acknowledged. The fact that too many Palestinian leaders and spokespeople have often failed to speak and act in a way best calculated to build mutual confidence and respect – and in fact have too often resorted to incitement – does not detract from this basic principle.

The Party should state its commitment to Israel’s security and recognition as the national homeland of the Jewish people and their right to a normal life free from terror and incitement. It should also state its commitment to ensuring that Palestinians can govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity, pursuant to a negotiated, conflict-ending agreement with Israel. The Party should expressly acknowledge that only a two-state solution can provide Palestinians independence, sovereignty and dignity while providing Israelis the secure and recognized borders of a democratic Jewish state.

2. American Opposition to Settlements

The Republican Party should reaffirm its support for the policy of all eight American administrations since 1967 – both Republican and Democratic – opposing settlement construction and expansion over the Green Line in the territory Israel has occupied since the Six Day War.

3. American, Regional and International Involvement in Conflict Resolution Efforts

The Republican Party should continue in the tradition of all recent Presidents stating the American interest in resolving this conflict and acknowledging that, while only the parties themselves can ultimately agree to an end to the conflict, the US and its close allies in the international community have a vital role to play in reaching a solution. Ideas and initiatives such as the Arab Peace Initiative should be encouraged as enhancing the prospects for negotiations between the parties.

4. Jerusalem

The Republican Party should restate its position that Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem – and should acknowledge that the city is home to both Israelis and Palestinians alike. It should call – as outlined in the Clinton parameters and pursuant to a two-state solution agreed between the parties – for American recognition of the Jewish areas of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, with precise arrangements to be reached in negotiations.

5. Opposition to the Global BDS Movement and Occupation

The Republican Party should affirm its opposition to the Global BDS Movement, which fails to recognize Israel’s right to exist, does not support a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and works against not just the occupation but the state of Israel itself. The most effective way to counter the BDS Movement is to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ends Israel’s occupation of the territory it won in 1967 and results in an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security.