In letter to Trump, 191 House members urge support for two states
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In letter to Trump, 191 House members urge support for two states

Signed almost entirely by Democrats, missive wants president to reaffirm 'longstanding, bipartisan commitment' to two-state solution

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

President Donald Trump walks to the White House after arriving on Marine One, Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump walks to the White House after arriving on Marine One, Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Almost 200 House members sent an open letter to President Donald Trump Friday asking him to reaffirm US support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“For decades, American presidents and Israeli prime ministers of all political parties have publicly supported and worked toward attaining a peace agreement that recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state and establishes a demilitarized Palestinian state, coexisting side-by-side in peace and security,” the letter stated.

Facilitated by Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly and North Carolina Rep. David Price, both Democrats, the letter comes just before the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference, where Vice President Mike Pence and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will speak.

While President Trump has not explicitly pulled US support for a two-state solution, he has also not insisted on that outcome as the only resolution to the decades-old conflict, as his most recent successors have all done.

US President Donald Trump, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP/SAUL LOEB)
US President Donald Trump, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

When asked about the topic at a joint press conference in Washington with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, Trump said, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

The House members said they wanted a stronger position from the White House on this matter, which they insisted was necessary for the long-term survivability of the Zionist ideal, as well as a fair and equitable future for Palestinians.

“We remain convinced that a two-state solution is the only outcome that would quell ongoing incidents of violence, maintain Israel as a secure, Jewish and democratic state, and provide a just and stable future for the Palestinians,” the legislators said.

“It is our belief that a one-state outcome risks destroying Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, denies the Palestinians fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations, and would leave both Israelis and Palestinians embroiled in an endless and intractable conflict for generations to come.”

Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., the ranking member of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, speaks at a hearing about the Obama Administration’s policies on marijuana, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., the ranking member of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, speaks at a hearing about the Obama Administration’s policies on marijuana, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The lawmakers amended this message with standard language cited with US involvement in mediating a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

“We must ensure that a comprehensive agreement between the two parties is not imposed and oppose unilateral actions by either of the two parties that would push the prospects for peace further out of reach,” the letter said.

To be sure, there have been mixed signals from the administration on their level of support for pushing a two-state framework.

Trump’s envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in February that “we absolutely support at two-state solution” and that those who think that the US does not were “in error.”

But, she said, the US was also considering new means to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. “We are thinking out of the box as well.”

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