Attempts to add language criticizing Israel’s “occupation and illegal settlements” into the new draft of the Democratic party platform were definitively shot down by Hillary Clinton’s camp during what was likely to be the last meeting of the panel drafting the platform on Saturday.
The panel, composed of supporters of the two Democratic presidential candidates, Clinton – the presumed nominee – and Bernie Sanders, has clashed over the issue of Israel and the Palestinians since the committee first convened. Sanders’ supporters include known anti-Israel and pro-BDS activists James Zogby and Cornel West.
The Sanders camp has been pushing for a harsher stance on Israel and more recognition of Palestinian plight. The most recent edit, nixed by Clinton’s corner, called for a two-state solution and “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” on Israel’s part.
Arguing in favor of the new language, West strongly condemned Israel and the IDF, essentially claiming a moral equivalence between the terrorist organization and Israel’s military.
“While Hamas has to take responsibility for killing innocent people . . . so does the IDF, so does the Israeli Defense Forces when they kill innocent folk on the other side,” he said.
The comment drew cheers from the audience.
Maya Berry, the uncommitted delegate who proposed the change, said that it would help the US be seen as a “credible peace partner” by the Palestinian people and by pro-Palestinian Americans.
Clinton supporter Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, argued that adding the inciteful phrase would have the opposite effect, making peace discussions more difficult.
“It’s up to the Palestinian and Israeli leadership to make the tough choices that must be made,” he said. “We cannot prescribe specific outcomes [like removing settlements]. To realize peace and support a fair two-state solution, we must defeat this amendment and support the base text of the platform.”
The amendment was rejected by a vote of 95-73, leading to booing and anger from the audience. Some activists walked out after it was defeated, and one yelled that the party had “sold out” to the pro-Israel organization AIPAC.
It was the second failed attempt to inject anti-Israel language into the Democratic platform. The first amendment, proposed by Zogby, was much stronger, with calls for Israel to cease construction in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria and in eastern Jerusalem, and for the international community to rebuild and strengthen the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.