The Electronic Intifada / December 11, 2019
Republicans voted overwhelmingly Friday for Israeli apartheid in the West Bank.
While the so-called two-state solution may be defunct, Republicans’ silence on what would replace it suggests they’re fine with Israel entrenching the apartheid system it has been establishing in the West Bank over the last five decades.
They certainly aren’t bubbling with excitement about the prospect of one person, one vote.
As for the Democrats, it’s just more words, words, words. Words with no teeth – never any teeth.
In the 226-188 vote, members of the House of Representatives couldn’t even muster the courage to call the occupation an occupation.
Five Republicans joined the Democratic majority to back the resolution. Four Democrats – and independent Palestinian American Justin Amash – voted against the resolution.
Notably, the Democrats who voted against the resolution are members of “The Squad” – recently elected progressives who have been more critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinian rights than other House members. For them, it did not go far enough.
Stripped from the resolution was language that called for “an end to the occupation.”
The version that passed makes no mention of “occupation” at all. But it does include the make-believe assertion that “for more than 20 years, presidents of the United States from both political parties have opposed settlement expansion.”
Even former US diplomat Aaron David Miller, Israel’s self-described “attorney” during years of Arab-Israeli negotiations, and Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Israel, recently described it as fantasy to think the US ever meaningfully opposed settlements.
They made the observation after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement last month that the US no longer considers Israel’s settlements on occupied Palestinian land to violate international law.
According to Miller and Kurtzer, the Trump administration’s decision merely formalized the “de facto approach of US administrations over the course of four decades to acquiesce to, even enable, the Israeli settlement enterprise.”
Over those decades, they note, the US remained “silent on the issue of legality” and failed to “impose a penalty that could limit or discourage Israel’s settlement policies.”
Complicit when it mattered, they add: “We watched this happen, up close, during our more than 50 combined years of service in US diplomacy under both Republican and Democratic administrations.”
With the vote, most Democratic members of this Congress are complicit as well – and some have been for decades.
There’s no language spelling out sanctions for Israel if it continues on its course of settlements and threatening to annex the Jordan Valley.
And, actually, it’s worse. Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey successfully introduced an amendment making it clear that military aid to Israel will continue.
It’s business as usual, always business as usual, even as President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu move with alacrity to change the facts on the ground.
As Israel solidifies apartheid, Gottheimer and scores of other Democrats have made clear that the US won’t stop or minimize the military aid. In fact, they insist that all $38 billion approved over 10 years by the Obama administration must go through.
Politico described Gottheimer’s amendment “as a direct shot” at Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders: The Vermont senator has said he would reduce US military aid to Israel to curb its abuses of Palestinian rights.
Their opposition to the resolution is a reminder that a small number of congressional Democrats grasp the urgent need for pressure.
Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota voted present.
The Minnesota Democrat issued her own statement calling for conditioning aid to Israel in order to protect Palestinian children, homes and land.
Jesús “Chuy” García of Illinois joined McCollum in voting present.
Speaking on the House floor, Tlaib took the strongest position among Democrats.
By backing a two-state solution, the Michigan congresswoman said, the resolution “not only endorses an unrealistic, unattainable solution – one that Israel has made impossible – but also one that legitimizes inequality, ethnic discrimination and inhumane conditions.”
Pointing out how Israeli laws have “effectively made Palestinians second-class citizens,” Tlaib said “separate but equal didn’t work in our country, and I can’t see it [being] possible in other countries.”
Although the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers backed the resolution, there are cracks in the consensus as grassroots support for Palestinian rights breaks into Congress and into the views of some Democratic presidential contenders.
Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune, TheNation.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.