Eighteen Senate Democrats, led by Senators Chris Van Hollen, Chris Murphy, and Tim Kaine, expressed yesterday grave concern regarding unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory starting potentially as early as July.
In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “Defense” Minister Benny Gantz, the senators warned that such a move would mark a dramatic reversal of decades of shared understandings between the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and the international community, and would impact Israel’s future, placing its security and democracy at risk.
“A deep commitment to Israel’s security and a shared set of democratic values are foundational elements of the close relationship between our countries. We are therefore concerned that unilateral annexation puts both Israel’s security and democracy at risk. Annexation would betray our shared democratic values by denying Palestinians’ right to self-determination in a viable, sovereign, independent and contiguous state. It could bring an end to Palestinian security cooperation with Israel, directly threatening the security of the Israeli people, and endanger Israel’s crucial peace agreement with Jordan,” the senators wrote.
They concluded: “As friends and supporters of Israel, we caution you against taking unilateral steps that would fray our unique bonds, imperil Israel’s future and place out of reach the prospect of a lasting peace. If you move forward with unilateral annexation, we would not support that action.”
“This is consistent with long-standing American policy opposing unilateral actions by either party to the conflict. Pursuit of a viable, negotiated two state solution is essential to ensuring our shared democratic values and lasting bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.”
Joining Van Hollen, Murphy, and Kaine were Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tom Carper (D-De.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).