Washington - With backing of pro-Israel activists on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are pushing to pass a resolution hailing Israel’s control over all of Jerusalem.
The resolution, which makes no mention of East Jerusalem being a possible capital of a future Palestinian state, drew criticism from dovish Jewish activists who argued that it does not reflect the changes on the ground, or the willingness of most Israelis to see the city serve as capital for both their country and a Palestinian state.
The measure — introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos of California, Democratic chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the committee’s ranking Republican — “commends Israel for its administration of the undivided city of Jerusalem for the past 40 years, during which Israel has respected the rights of all religious groups.” It also congratulates Israel for defeating its enemies during the war, and calls on the president to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.
Both Bill Clinton and the elder George Bush repeatedly signed waivers delaying the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv when each held the office of president. The waivers are issued routinely every six months, and according to American sources, no change should be expected before the final status of Jerusalem is settled.
The resolution was marked up by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week and is expected to be brought to the House floor June 5, the day marking 40 years since the 1967 war. A similar resolution will be introduced in the Senate by Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is lobbying members of Congress to support the resolution, which is similar in language to a version that passed 10 years ago in both chambers.
No Jewish groups have lobbied against the resolution, but liberal Jewish activists have voiced some concerns.
M.J. Rosenberg is the director of the Israel Policy Forum, a group that advocates stepped-up American diplomacy in pursuit of a two-state solution. Rosenberg said that the resolution was “pointless,” since it fails to address the realities on the ground and the changes in Israeli public opinion regarding the future of Jerusalem. “Can you imagine the Knesset passing this?” Rosenberg asked in his weekly column distributed by IPF. “Of course not.” Another Jewish activist said that Aipac is “forcing” the resolution.
While Congress will be marking the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War with the strong pro-Israel resolution, supporters of the Palestinian cause will be taking to the streets of Washington on June 10 to protest Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The demonstration, organized by both the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation and United for Peace & Justice, will feature, among others, Cindy and Craig Corrie, whose daughter Rachel was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer during a protest against house demolitions in Gaza.
Organizers of the demonstration have called on participants to avoid using any anti-Jewish language during the protest, arguing that their opponents will try to make it appear as if there is an antisemitic motivation behind the demonstration. “We therefore request that signs and slogans go the extra mile in respecting people of all religions, and not appear to deny the dignity of or call for violence against any group or community,” organizers stressed in their message to participants.
Pro-Palestinian activists will conclude the events with a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.