Former national security officials say Democrats should oppose Israeli occupation, settlement expansion in platform

Justine Coleman

The Hill  /  May 4, 2020

More than 30 former national security officials asked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to use its 2020 platform to push for a fair solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a letter obtained by HuffPost, the former officials said the party and its nominee should oppose unilateral Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory. They said previous platforms have “rightly” committed to Israel’s security but didn’t recognize Palestinian rights.

“Those platforms have, however, also been nearly silent on the rights of Palestinians, on Israeli actions that undermine those rights and the prospects for a two-state solution, and on the need for security for both peoples,” the letter reads.

“We ask that the platform … make clear what a comprehensive effort to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should look like under a future Democratic administration, which includes a commitment to security, democracy, and human rights,” it continues.

Those who signed the letter include Avril Haines and Ben Rhodes, both top officials under former President Obama, along with advisers to a number of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s opponents in the 2020 primary. Former diplomats who have worked on the conflict, including Martin Indyk and Strobe Talbott, also added their names in support.

The DNC did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Democratic Party has been hesitant to criticize Israel, as Republicans have in the past accused the party of abandoning a U.S. ally.

President Trump and his administration have backed pro-Israeli policies like the annexation of the West Bank, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to begin this summer.

Biden has said he will not back annexation but said he would allow the U.S. to continue to acknowledge Jerusalem as the nation’s capital, a move Trump made in 2017, as he attempts to balance his potential voters’ wishes.

Justine Coleman – staff writer