Echoing settler leader, Likud MKs blast AIPAC’s two-state support

Echoing settler leader, Likud MKs blast AIPAC’s two-state support

After lobby chief calls for Palestinian state, Hotovely, Glick and Zohar back Samaria Regional Council head Dagan’s claim that lobby misrepresents key Israeli position

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Likud and Jewish Home lawmakers at a ceremony at the evacuated Sa-nur settlement in the northern West Bank. (Jacob Magid/The Times of Israel)
Likud and Jewish Home lawmakers at a ceremony at the evacuated Sa-nur settlement in the northern West Bank. (Jacob Magid/The Times of Israel)

Echoing the message of a top settler leader, Likud lawmakers called on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to drop its support for the two-state solution in a storm of Monday statements.

In remarks liable to anger hawkish Israeli politicians and their American supporters, including portions of the AIPAC membership, the lobby’s Executive Director Howard Kohr on Sunday issued an explicit call for “two states for two peoples” and said it was “tragic” that this scenario currently seems so distant. “We must all work toward that future: two states for two peoples. One Jewish with secure and defensible borders, and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future,” said Kohr.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely implored the pro-Israel lobby and American Jewry more broadly to “change the record with respect to many basic understandings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Praising the Trump administration’s ability to “think anew” on the issue, Hotovely, speaking to Army Radio interview, called on Jews in the US to do the same.

The deputy foreign minister argued that Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip proved the principles behind the two-state solution to be a failure. “The entire international preoccupation with the Gaza issue stems, among other things, from the fact that there was no understanding there that the two-state solution ultimately leads us to a reality of more and more terrorism, she argued.

Some two-state advocates, however, contend that Israeli withdrawals must be part of a broader agreement with the Palestinians, as opposed to the 2005 Gaza pullout, which was carried out unilaterally.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan speaks during a protest against the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Knesset on January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Hotovely’s comments came hours after Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan blasted the positions of the US’ most powerful Israel lobby as having “no basis in fact.”

In a letter to AIPAC’s top brass, Dagan took particular issue with the group’s support for the two-state solution, asserting that the group was inaccurately claiming it to be the end-game to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that it had support from both Washington and Jerusalem.

He argued that neither the official guidelines of Israel’s current government nor US President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy made any mention of the proposal.

Likud MK Yehudah Glick in the Knesset, May 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While the pro-Israel lobby does not explicitly refer to the two-state solution as the official policy preference of the either the US of Israeli governments, the section of AIPAC’s 2017 briefing book on the topic begins by stating, “Israel is committed to a two-state solution—a Jewish state living side-by-side in peace with a demilitarized Palestinian state. The United States must send a clear message that this goal can be achieved only through direct negotiations between the parties.”

No other solution to the conflict earns mention in the five-page chapter.

“I am astounded as to why such a great, meaningful organization as AIPAC… would represent the positions of the state of Israel (and of the United States) so inaccurately before senior government officials, senators and congressmen, and the general pro-Israel public,” Dagan wrote to AIPAC leadership.

Joining Hotovely in her criticism of the pro-Israel lobby was fellow Likud lawmaker Yehudah Glick.

“AIPAC is a big and important friend of Israel, but if it pretends to represent the official position of the State of Israel to elected officials in the United States, it must do so faithfully,” Glick said in a statement.

Zionist Union party leader Avi Gabbay addresses the pro-Israel US lobby AIPAC at its policy conference in Washington DC, March 4, 2018. (John Bowel)

“It is clear to the vast majority of government and coalition ministers that the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the State of Israel means bringing terrorism to the heart of the state,” he added, calling on AIPAC to update its talking points on the peace process.

Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar mirrored Dagan’s message as well, calling on the pro-Israel lobby to “change its messaging to members of Congress in accordance with the position of the State of Israel,” in a Monday statement.

Shevach Shtern, the chairman of Likud’s National Headquarters branch questioned the logic of AIPAC’s position altogether.

Shevach Stern, the chairman of the Likud National Headquarters branch seen at the Knesset on May 17, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I don’t know what AIPAC is doing. Just two months ago, the internal committee of the country’s ruling party voted to apply Israeli sovereignty to Judea, Samaria and Greater Jerusalem — a 180 degree difference from the establishment of a Palestinian state,” he said in a statement referencing the Likud Central Committee unanimous passing of a December resolution calling on party lawmakers to advance legislation to annex parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“A decisive majority, even 100 percent in my opinion, of cabinet ministers, certainly those in Likud, will stand in the way of the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the country,” Shtern concluded.

A spokesman for AIPAC declined to respond to the right-wing lawmakers’ attacks.

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