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Full text of the letter from House Democrats warning Israel about annexation of the West Bank

 


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Four Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives — Jan Schakowsky, Ted Deutch, David E. Price, and Bradley S. Schneider — are circulating a letter among their colleagues that would warn Israel of the perils of annexation. The full text is below.

Dear Colleague,

Recent reports indicate the Israeli government may soon consider annexation in the West Bank. We believe unilateral annexation, and unilateral action by any side, would jeopardize long-standing efforts to achieve a viable two-state solution that addresses the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and their desire for long-term security and a just, sustainable peace.

As supporters of the U.S. — Israel relationship and Palestinian self-determination, please join us in expressing our concern with the stated intention to move ahead with any unilateral annexation of West Bank territory. 

The Letter:

To: Prime Minister Netanyahu

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gantz

Foreign Minister Ashkenazi

We write as American lawmakers who are long-time supporters, based on our shared democratic values and strategic interests, of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship. We firmly believe in, and advocate for, a strong and secure Jewish and democratic State of Israel, a state able to build upon current peace treaties and expand cooperation with regional players and the international community. We have consistently endorsed the pursuit of a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians resulting in two states for two peoples and a brighter future for the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. In that vein, we write today to express our deep concern that the push for unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank after July 1st will make these goals harder to achieve.

Longstanding, bipartisan U.S. foreign policy supports direct negotiations to achieve a viable two-state solution that addresses the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and their desire for long-term security and a just, sustainable peace. This position was twice reconfirmed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year. Our fear is that unilateral actions, taken by either side, will push the parties further from negotiations and the possibility of a final, negotiated agreement.

We remain steadfast in our belief that pursuing two states for two peoples is essential to ensuring a secure, Jewish, democratic Israel able to live side-by-side, in peace and mutual recognition, with an independent, viable, de-militarized Palestinian state.

Unilateral annexation would likely jeopardize Israel’s significant progress on normalization with Arab states at a time when closer cooperation can contribute to countering shared threats. Unilateral annexation risks insecurity in Jordan, with serious ancillary risks to Israel. Finally, unilateral annexation could create serious problems for Israel with its European friends and other partners around the world. We do not see how any of these acute risks serve the long-term interest of a strong, secure Israel.

As committed partners in supporting and protecting the special U.S.-Israel relationship, we express our deep concern with the stated intention to move ahead with any unilateral annexation of West Bank territory, and we urge your government to reconsider plans to do so.

 

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