Republican Platform Dangerously Omits Mention of Two-State Solution, Palestinians

July 12, 2016

J Street is extremely concerned at reports that the Republican Party platform committee is weighing language abandoning support for a two-state solution, deleting any reference to the Palestinians and denying the international legal reality that Israel is an occupying power in the West Bank.

As reported by CNN, the national security subcommittee of the platform committee approved an amendment dropping support for the two-state solution, which has been part of the GOP platform, since 2004, and declaring that the party rejects the “false notion that Israel is an occupier.” Most offensively, all mention of the Palestinians has been taken out of the text, sending the clear message that the Republican Party does not care about them at all and regards them as an invisible people.

This language is dangerous and irresponsible. It breaks with over half a century of bipartisan US consensus on Middle East policy and disavows the important achievements of previous Republican presidents in seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It would place the Republican Party to the right of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who continues to maintain that he supports the two-state solution.

The text could still be changed as it moves through the approval process – and we strongly urge Republican delegates to do so. This platform would certainly embolden the Israeli settler movement and those who wish to annex the West Bank. It would weaken Palestinian moderates and strengthen extremists advocating violence. Those who care about protecting Israel’s future as a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish people should recognize that this proposed language severely undermines that goal.

There is other objectionable language in the draft, notably the designation of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (“BDS”) as inherently anti-Semitic. Though J Street opposes the BDS Movement and recognizes that some of its members and supporters have expressed anti-Semitic attitudes and policies, we also believe that this language is far too broad and would unfairly brand many people as anti-Semites, simply because they endorse economic pressure to end the occupation.

Lastly, the restoration of language abandoned by the party in 2012 declaring Jerusalem the “undivided” capital of Israel ignores the complex situation of the city and its likely disposition under any future peace agreement. The party should instead acknowledge that the city is home to both Israelis and Palestinians alike. Pursuant to a two-state solution agreed between the parties, it should call 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.