Letter to President Obama sent as Middle East Quartet meets
WASHINGTON — J Street applauded the 74 Members of Congress who have signed a letter to President Obama affirming that active US leadership toward achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an “essential element of the United States’ unbreakable commitment” to Israel. The letter, to be delivered to the President today, comes during a week of renewed focus on Middle East diplomacy and signals strong support from a significant portion of the Congress for an assertive US role in resolving the conflict. Today, the Middle East Quartet met in Washington and reiterated its commitment to pressing forward with efforts to achieve a two-state solution. And next week, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is expected to visit Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office to share the Palestinian parameters for a two-state resolution on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas. The letter, which was authored by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), states that “support for a two-state resolution is inseparable from such…support for Israel, its special relationship with the United States, and its very survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.” This position, the letter notes, has been held by successive Democratic and Republican administrations. The text of the letter and a list of signers appear in full below this release. “The signers of this letter are making clear that to be pro-Israel is to support active US engagement in achieving a two-state solution,” said Dylan Williams, J Street’s Director of Government Affairs. “If the US Congress does not make a viable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a cornerstone of foreign policy in the region, then we are not truly helping Israel to face one its most critical challenges.” Signers include ten ranking members of committees; 12 members of Appropriations; seven members of Armed Services; and the Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Seven Jewish Members also signed the letter. More than 700 J Street activists lobbied in support of the letter last month as part of J Street’s third national conference, meeting with over 225 congressional offices.
April 11, 2012 Mr. President: We write to unambiguously affirm the United States Congress’ strong support for active American leadership toward achieving a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts. This is a time of great uncertainty and risk for our ally Israel. We share its deep fears about the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. We have serious concerns about the possible emergence of a Palestinian government, which includes officials who do not recognize the Quartet Principles. And we are outraged by terrorist attacks and hateful rhetoric against Israel and its people around the world. In the face of these challenges, it is crucial for the United States to be unwavering in word and deed in our historically bipartisan support of Israel’s security and legitimacy. In our view, support for a two-state resolution is inseparable from such support for Israel, its special relationship with the United States, and its very survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. As Israeli President Shimon Peres said a few weeks ago, “The principle of the two-state solution is a paramount Israeli interest.” Our government, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has sought the emergence of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security as an essential element of the United States’ unbreakable commitment to our ally. Unfortunately, broad American political support for the two-state resolution is under serious attack in the increasingly polarized political environment. In recent months, some on the national political stage have argued that the United States should not play a lead role in the peace process, even denying the existence of the Palestinian people. Far from undermining Israel’s enemies, such rhetoric empowers them, and threatens Israel’s long-term security and survival. Such wavering on the two-state resolution helps the growing number of those calling for a “one-state solution” under which Jews would soon become a minority in their own historic homeland, destroying the Zionist dream. At the same time, U.S. equivocation on support for the emergence of a Palestinian state emboldens violent extremists who feed off of the false belief that peace is not possible. Accordingly, Israel cannot afford an absence or diminution of U.S. leadership in the urgent quest for peace. No mistake should be made: those who question whether our country should continue to push for a two state resolution do so at the expense of Israel’s long-term survival. We look forward to continuing to work with you toward the urgent goal of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts. Sincerely, Steve Cohen (TN-9) Gerald Connolly (VA-11) John Yarmuth (KY-3) Tammy Baldwin (WI-2) Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) Bruce Braley (IA-1) Lois Capps (CA-23) Michael Capuano (MA-8) Andre Carson (IN-7) Hansen Clarke (MI-13) William Lacy Clay (MO-1) Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-5) John Conyers, Jr. (MI-14) Jim Cooper (TN-5) Danny Davis (IL-7) Susan Davis (CA-53) Peter DeFazio (OR-4) Diana DeGette (CO-1) Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) John Dingell (MI-15) Lloyd Doggett (TX-25) Mike Doyle (PA-14) Donna Edwards (MD-4) Keith Ellison (MN-5) Anna Eshoo (CA-14) Sam Farr (CA-17) Chaka Fattah (PA-2) Bob Filner (CA-51) Charlie Gonzalez (TX-20) Raul Grijalva (AZ-7) Luis Gutierrez (IL-4) Martin Heinrich (NM-1) Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) Rush Holt (NJ-12) Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-2) Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) Hank Johnson (GA-4) Ron Kind (WI-3) Barbara Lee (CA-9) John Lewis (GA-5) Dave Loebsack (IA-2) Stephen Lynch (MA-9) Edward Markey (MA-7) Betty McCollum (MN-4) Jim McDermott (WA-7) Jim McGovern (MA-3) Brad Miller (NC-13) George Miller (CA-7) James Moran (VA-8) Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) John Olver (MA-1) Ed Pastor (AZ-4) Chellie Pingree (ME-1) Jared Polis (CO-2) David Price (NC-4) Charles Rangel (NY-15) Laura Richardson (CA-37) Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) Bobby Rush (IL-1) Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) Kurt Schrader (OR-5) Louise Slaughter (NY-28) Adam Smith (WA-9) Pete Stark (CA-13) Mike Thompson (CA-1) John Tierney (MA-6) Paul Tonko (NY-21) Nydia Velazquez (NY-12) Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) Melvin Watt (NC-12) Henry Waxman (CA-30) Peter Welch (VT-AL) Lynn Woolsey (CA-6)