A committee of the US Democratic Party just voted on its policy position regarding aid to Israel. The proposal would continue to fund Israeli security forces generously. This should come as no great surprise given that, with a handful of exceptions, both major US parties have been staunch supporters of Israel and its foreign policy.
But this year, a crucial amendment was roundly defeated by a majority of the committee’s members, which casts serious doubt on the Democratic Party’s commitment to the two-state solution. And this in turn raises the question of whether the US political class has ever really supported it in the first place, or whether it has simply served as a convenient political smokescreen for a much more sinister project.
Massive majority says ‘no’ to amendment
On 27 July, one of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) sub-committees voted on its final policy platform for the US general election later this year. The majority of ‘platform committee’ members voted in support of continuing US aid to Israel, which is standard given the US’s largely bipartisan support for Israel. But it also voted against an amendment that would have prohibited US aid from facilitating annexation or violating Palestinian rights.
Just 34 members of the committee’s members voted for the amendment against 117 who voted against it. The amendment also included a call for restoring diplomatic ties and aid to the Palestinians and a declaration of opposition to the occupation. The term ‘occupation’ had not even appeared in earlier drafts.
Blind bipartisan support
No one should be surprised about the Democratic Party’s support for aid to Israel generally. There are admittedly a handful of progressive Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have spoken out for Palestinian rights. But for decades, both major US parties have strongly been in favour of continuing support for Israel.
Meanwhile, the majority of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have turned a blind eye to the suffering inflicted on the Palestinians and Israeli aggression against neighbouring countries. Even some of the Trump administration’s most shameless examples of pandering to the Israeli far-right, such as recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the face of overwhelming international opposition, have received support from leading Democrats such as Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.
A new low
But the rejection of this amendment represents a level of kowtowing to Israel of a different order of magnitude – both politically and morally. Because until now there has at least been a pretence that Israel has been committed in principle to a two-state solution. But now, the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu is openly talking about annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.
Though the plans have been delayed from their initial deadline in early July, Netanyahu has not stepped back from any of them. When enacted, they would risk leaving the Palestinians without enough land for a Palestinian state. As United Nations (UN) secretary-general António Guterres put it in a 24 June press release:
If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-State solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations
Moreover, the internationally accepted borders for any future peace settlement, recognised by multiple UN resolutions, are those that existed before the ‘Six Day War‘ in June 1967 in which Israel first took control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
No neutral arbiter of the conflict
But make no mistake, annexing the occupied territories has always been Israel’s intention. As Israeli historian Ilan Pappé explains in his book Ten Myths About Israel, the Zionist vision was always to create a Jewish state in all of historic Palestine. Likewise, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has argued that Israel itself, in fact, never even supported a two-state solution in the first place.
All of the above raises the question as to whether the US political class ever did so either. Given that Israel itself never intended this outcome, it seems that the US political elites of both parties have simply been using the two-state solution as a smokescreen to provide political cover for the actual plan of an ethnically cleansed Israel encompassing all of historic Palestine but with just Jews and no Palestinians in it.
Could other countries step in?
And this latest move by the Democrats hammers home what has long been obvious to the politically astute – that the US is not and cannot be viewed as a neutral arbiter of the conflict. If both major parties in the US support Israel not just occupying but annexing land that doesn’t belong to it, and in flagrant violation of international law, then the US can’t credibly claim to be anything other than an enabler of that criminal behaviour.
Perhaps it’s time that other countries step into the fold to try to serve as more impartial arbiters in resolving the conflict. As their influence grows in the world, emerging powers like Russia and China could offer themselves as the brokers of peace. These countries are certainly far from perfect themselves, but they could only be an improvement over the duplicitous and hypocritical role played by the US political elite of both parties.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – US Embassy Tel Aviv
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