Twenty-Seven Senators Call for “Sustained, US Diplomatic Initiative” for Two-State Solution

March 19, 2013

Edited to reflect the addition of Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)

WASHINGTON – On the eve of President Obama’s trip to Israel, 27 Senators have signed on to a letter authored by California Senator Dianne Feinstein calling for a sustained US diplomatic initiative to help forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.

J Street supports the letter and its national leaders are on Capitol Hill today lobbying Senators to sign it.

The letter is particularly significant because it recognizes the indispensible US role in achieving an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. However, with Israelis and Palestinians currently suffering from high levels of mutual distrust, J Street believes that an active and sustained US role will be crucial if talks are to have any chance of success.

“It is essential for you to reaffirm on your upcoming trip that finding a pathway to peace remains a priority for your administration,” the letter states. “You will find strong support in the Senate for a sustained, US diplomatic initiative to help both parties conclude an agreement. Ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and the Palestinians to make the difficult choices to achieve peace, yet the United States remains indispensable to any viable effort to achieve that goal.”

It also makes the point, reiterated by President Obama and earlier this month by outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, that reaching a two-state deal is essential to preserving Israel as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. “We agree with you that a peace agreement establishing two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security is necessary to ensure that Israel remains a Jewish, democratic state,” the letter says.

The text circulated as around 230 national J Street and J Street U leaders gathered in Washington for a leadership summit and went to Capitol Hill to lobby their congressional representatives. The main J Street annual leadership conference is scheduled for the end of September and is expected to attract around 2,500 participants.

Read the full text of the letter here.

The following Senators signed the letter:
Dianne Feinstein (California)
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin)
Michael Bennet (Colorado)
Barbara Boxer (California)
Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Maria Cantwell (Washington)
Tom Carper (Delaware)
Chris Coons (Delaware)
Dick Durbin (Illinois)
Al Franken (Minnesota)
Tom Harkin (Iowa)
Martin Heinrich (New Mexico)
Tim Kaine (Virginia)
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey)
Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Jeff Merkley (Oregon)
Chris Murphy (Connecticut)
Jack Reed (Rhode Island)
Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia)
Bernie Sanders (Vermont)
Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire)
Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)
Jon Tester (Montana)
Mark Udall (Colorado)
Tom Udall (New Mexico)
Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island)