Taking yet another shift to the right on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, the Republican Party is poised to drop reference to Palestinians from its platform and to reinforced the call for keeping Jerusalem “undivided” under Israeli rule.
According to a CNN report based on a leaked first draft of the platform presented to party’s platform committee, the 2016 platform will not include any direct mention of Palestine or the Palestinians when discussing ways of bringing peace to the Middle East.
Support for a two-state solution has been a mainstay of all Republican administrations and although little progress has been made to realize this solution, it has always been the cornerstone of both Republican and Democratic parties’ approach to the conflict.
A group of Jewish Republican activists, organized in a Super PAC named Iron Dome Coalition, has been advocating for a departure from a two-state solution in the GOP platform. The activists lobbied the platform committee against what they described as “any attempts to force or pressure Israel to recognize or support the creation of an Arab state in any part of the Land of Israel including Judea and Samaria.”
The last Republican platform, adopted in 2012, expressed support for “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders,” and envisions “two democratic states — Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine — living in peace and security.”
The term “Palestine” was first introduced into American policy discussion by President George W. Bush, when discussing the need to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC has been a strong supporter of a two-state solution and has fought back in the past attempts to drop this mention from the Republican Party’s platform.
According to CNN, the new platform will also support Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel. The term “undivided,” which was omitted from the party platform in 2012, would suggest that even under a future peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem would remain under Israeli control.
The pro-Israel evangelical group Christians United for Israel have sent last week letters to Republican delegates urging them to make sure the platform recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.
The GOP platform committee kicked off its discussions Monday morning in Cleveland and will finalized the language by Tuesday before bringing it to a vote at the party’s convention on July 18.
The party’s apparent shift to the right on policy regarding the Israeli – Palestinian conflict coincides with the Democratic Party’s decision on Saturday to block attempts to move its policy on the issue further to the left and to add language seen as more sympathetic to the Palestinian side.
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 Ha’aretz 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. Contact Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman