Chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan called out the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Monday after AIPAC’s Executive Director, Howard Kohr endorsed the two-state solution in his opening address at the organization’s annual policy conference this week.
Samaria, known in Hebrew as Shomron, is an important part of both the biblical heartland and is currently the home of thousands of Israelis. As a region in the northern West Bank, many in international community call upon Israel to relinquish all of it, if not most of it as part of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“I am astounded as to why such a great, meaningful organization as AIPAC, whose raison d’etre is pro-Israel advocacy in the United States, would represent the positions of the State of Israel (and of the United States) so inaccurately before senior government officials, senators and congressmen, and the general pro-Israel public,” Dagan said.
He claimed that “the position that AIPAC is representing as that of the State of Israel — in the AIPAC mission statement and in the AIPAC talking points inter alia — not only fails to represent Israel properly, it is detrimental to the efforts to achieve dialogue in the Middle East.”
AIPAC’s official mission as described on its website is “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel” through “educating decision makers” and “urging US members of Congress to support Israel through foreign aid, government partnerships, joint anti-terrorism efforts, and the promotion of a negotiated two-state solution–a Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian state.”
Notably, the organization does not claim to represent the official positions of Israel or the US.
In his speech, Kohr called for “two states for two peoples: One Jewish with secure and defensible borders, and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future.”
While first expressing appreciation for AIPAC’s “devoted efforts to strengthen, protect, and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Dagan took issue with AIPAC’s talking points still being “very much tied to establishment of a Palestinian state” as well as with its website, which he claimed “seems to imply that Israel is committed to a two-state solution and that the United States takes this position as well.”
Dagan argued that AIPAC’s talking points have “no basis in fact,” referring to the official Government of Israel’s guidelines that “contain not one word or even hint of support for the two-state solution.”
“The AIPAC mission statement and in the AIPAC talking points inter alia — not only fails to represent Israel properly, it is detrimental to the efforts to achieve dialogue in the Middle East,” Dagan added.
He continued saying, “as for the United States, while the previous (February 2015) National Security Strategy report did state that the United States remains ‘committed to a two-state solution,’ it is our understanding that the National Security Strategy currently in effect, as of December 2017, does not indicate support for the two-state outcome.”
Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not explicitly backed Palestinian statehood in the era of the Trump White House, President Donald Trump said in December that the US would help facilitate a lasting peace agreement and that “the United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.”
Dagan called upon AIPAC to update its mission statement and talking points in order to “participate even more effectively” in Israel’s great quest for survival as an “independent, secure, moral, democratic, peaceful Jewish state.”