Republicans leave two-state language out of party platform

The Republican Party’s platform committee unanimously agreed to language on Israel that omits references to a two-state solution — a change that came with little resistance from AIPAC.

A voice vote July 12 in Cleveland carried only “ayes,” with no votes against, earning the sponsor of the language, Alan Clemmons, a representative in the South Carolina State House, a standing ovation from other delegates.

The two-state concept has long been a pillar of both Democratic and Republican policy in the region, and a stated policy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although not of his government.

For decades it has also been a mainstay of pro-Israel activism and of the pro-Israel lobby, including its leader, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Yet in contrast with 2012, when AIPAC reportedly opposed the language, this year it did not offer resistance and praised the platform.

“The U.S. seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region,” the platform says.

“We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so,” it also says, a reference to Palestinian Authority efforts to seek statehood status outside the framework of negotiations. “Our party is proud to stand with Israel now and always.”

In introducing the language, Clemmons emphasized that it does not preclude U.S. support for a two-state outcome should Israel choose that path. The language must be approved by the full Republican National Committee ahead of the convention in Cleveland July 18-21.

Driving the changes in the GOP platform is a new political action committee, the Iron Dome Alliance, which seeks to distinguish Republicans as friendlier to Israel than Democrats.

Jeff Ballabon, a founder of the super PAC, said the differences between the parties were now clear. “While the Democrats are arguing to what extent Israel should be called out for occupation, Republicans are denying that Israel is an occupier,” he said. — jta