Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations today made the following statement:

“As longtime supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and the two-state solution, we welcome any effort that will help advance those goals.

“Israel and the United States share important values, including support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.  These values transcend any particular elected official, whether in the legislative or executive branch, because these values are held by the people of our two countries, no matter who is in elected office.  Because of these values, the United States has strengthened its alliance with Israel, especially in the face of tactical and strategic threats on its border and throughout the region.  For the last several decades, Congress and successive administrations have worked to help Israel defend itself from these threats, and we remain committed to this important goal.  Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

“Israel’s existence as a democracy in the Middle East is not the only characteristic that separates it from its neighbors.  Of course, Israel is the only Jewish state in the world.  Throughout history, the Jewish people have had a homeland in Israel.  After the heinous tragedy of the Holocaust, the world recognized the importance of establishing a state for Jews there.  Rising global anti-Semitism has only underscored the importance of a Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. 

“Maintaining both its democratic and Jewish nature has always been supremely important.  Compromising on either would endanger the very essence of Israel.  It is for this reason that we have supported a negotiated solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, resulting in two states—a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, demilitarized Palestinian state—living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition. It is the long-standing policy of the United States that a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should come through direct negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with the support of countries in the region and around the world.

“The establishment of a Palestinian state would provide a home for millions of Palestinians.  The Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination, and the United States should support this goal.  

“A two-state solution cannot be born on the backs of unilateral actions from either side.  Unilateral actions do not contribute to a sustainable peace and would not serve U.S. interests.  Unilateral steps would make it harder to come back to the negotiating table and could set unrealistic expectations and unachievable demands.

“We urge President Trump to re-commit the United States to helping the parties return to the negotiating table to find a mutually agreeable solution to this conflict.  We look forward to working with the Administration to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

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