Local congressmen are giving peace a chance between the Palestinians and Israel. But they disagree on how to forge what would be a historic reconciliation.
Both local Democrats and Republicans are chiming in on the latest plan for Israel to annex land in the West Bank.
Two Valley Democrats signed a letter sent by their party to Israel, asking the country to back off on its annexation plan.
Meanwhile, two Valley Republicans signed a letter committing support to Israel’s sovereignty.
Cox, Harder Sign, but Costa Doesn’t
The Democrats, who say they support Israel, are concerned the Jewish state’s consideration of annexing land controlled by the Palestinians may jeopardize security and the hopes for a two-state solution. They warned it may also threaten relations with the rest of the world.
“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,” the Democrats said.
Of the 233 Democrats, 189 signed the letter including Valley representatives TJ Cox (D-Fresno) and Josh Harder (D-Turlock). Jim Costa (D-Fresno) did not sign the letter.
“As a supporter of a strong, secure Israel and a peaceful two-state solution, I believe it’s in the interest of our best ally in the Middle East that they refrain from unilateral annexation. Getting both parties to the table for a negotiated peace agreement is the only real solution for the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Cox said.
Costa tells GV Wire he remains a supporter of peace in the region.
“Peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors has been difficult and complex for decades. I am committed to a two-state solution that has proved elusive over the years for many reasons. I remain a strong supporter of the Israeli-U.S. partnership as our most reliable ally in that region. I will continue to keep a close eye as events unfold in the coming weeks to work for a peaceful solution for both the Israeli’s and the Palestinians,” Costa said.
Other notables not signing the letter include Eliot Engel (D-New York), the pro-Israel Democrat who lost his primary this week, and members of the progressive “Squad”: Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts).
California’s U.S. senators, Diane Feinstein and Kamla Harris, both of whom are Democrats, oppose Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.
Republicans Send Their Own Letter
Republicans sent their own letter in support of Israel, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare was also among the 116 Republicans to sign the letter.
“We are aware of and deeply concerned by threats being expressed by some to retaliate against Israel as it makes decisions to ensure defensible borders. It is shortsighted to threaten relations
with Israel, a long-time friend and critical ally that shares our democratic values,” the Republicans said.
One other Central Valley Republican, Tom McClintock (R-Roseville), did not sign.
Trump Wavering on Support
President Donald Trump’s top national security aides have been unable to reach a decision on whether to support an Israeli plan to annex significant parts of land the Palestinians claim for a future state, an impasse that could affect the timing of any action by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The White House said Thursday that consultations with Israeli officials will continue as they try to formulate a proposal that would support Trump’s plan for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
The Trump administration’s decision on annexation could alter America’s position in the Middle East and affect Trump’s election-year support with evangelical Christians, an important part of his political base. Virtually the entire international community opposes annexation, but many of Trump’s domestic supporters enthusiastically back it.
Among those favoring Netanyahu’s plan are Trump advisers such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador, and a number of Republicans in Congress. They say annexation, in addition to pleasing Trump’s base, would make a peace deal easier because that step would blunt what they believe are unrealistic Palestinian expectations for a future state, according to officials familiar with the matter. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
But others in the administration and in Congress want to see no, or limited, White House recognition of potential annexation. They include Pentagon officials and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and the architect of the Mideast peace plan, which has been roundly rejected by the Palestinians.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)