28 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

The Democratic Party approved their new platform at the Democratic National Convention last week. In the document, the party claimed that  “a strong, secure, and democratic Israel is vital to the interests of the United States.” The statement goes on to say that the only acceptable “end to conflict” is through a two-state solution, that is to say the creation of an independent Arab state inside the borders of Israel that is ethnically cleansed of Jews. The party platform explicitly rejects annexation, that is the granting of Israeli sovereignty over the areas of Judea and Samaria that were conquered by Israel in the defensive 1967 war after being illegally occupied by Jordan in 1948. 

The Demcratic platform notably rejected the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement while emphasizing the right to free speech. Despite this anti-BDS stance, the Democratic Party invited Linda Sarsour to speak at the “Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly” on Tuesday.Sarsour, a prominent left-wing Muslim advocate who has faced accusations of anti-Semitism, came to prominence as a strong campaigner for Bernie Sanders in his unsuccessful bid to gain the Democratic nomination in 2016.

Also on Tuesday, Congressman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez spoke at the DNC. Limited to one minute, she succeeded in shocking nonetheless, using that time to nominate Bernie Sanders. It should be remembered that AOC joined Sanders and four other House Democrats in calling for cutting US aid to Israel if they grant sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.

In addition, the new platform calls for a return to the platform endorses returning to the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal which was brokered by former President Obama and signed in 2015. This position was emphasized in a speech on Tuesday by John Kerry who, as Secretary of State under Obama, brokered the deal. 

The party lost no time in acting on its newly ratified platform. Led by Congressman Betty McCollum, a group of Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation titled the Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act on Friday that condemns the Israeli government’s proposed annexation of the occupied West Bank and blocks any US aid that would potentially be used to fund it. The bill inaccurately described the annexation as “illegal” and “in violation of international law.” She referred to the Jewish presence in Judea and Samria as “a military occupation.” In a statement, McCollum claimed that granting sovereignty would violate the “human rights” of the Arabs living in those regions. She did not relate to whether the destruction of Jewish communities,as was done in Gush Katif in 2005, would constitute a violation of the human rights of the 400,000 Jews who currently live in Judea and Samaria.

The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).

The move came in reaction to a Trump-brokered peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that was announced the day before the bill was introduced. Though the details of the agreement were not revealed, it was announced that it was dependent on Israel not granting sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. As part of his agreement to form a unity government, Netanyahu and Benny Gantz pledged to annex Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley. 

In response to criticism that the agreement with the UAE would preclude annexation, Netanyahu said that “it is still on the table.”