Rep. Jared Huffman speaking at a campaign event.
Rep. Jared Huffman speaking at a campaign event.

Two Bay Area reps vote no on resolution congratulating Israel on 75 years of independence

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Congress approved a resolution last week congratulating Israel on its 75th anniversary and urging expansion of the Abraham Accords, a 2020 agreement that normalized relations between Israel and some of its neighbors, including the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

The resolution passed on April 25 with an overwhelming 401-19 vote. All but one of the “no” votes came from Democrats, including two who represent the Bay Area. Fifteen representatives did not vote, including two Democrats from Northern California and two Democrats from Southern California.

Rep. Jared Huffman, whose District 2 stretches from Marin County to the Oregon border, and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, whose District 10 in the East Bay includes Walnut Creek and Danville, both voted “nay” on the measure.

Huffman said in a statement that he is a consistent supporter of Israel but had two problems with the resolution.

“First, unlike previous resolutions, H.Res 311 conspicuously omits any reference to supporting a two-state solution,” he said. “And second, instead of acknowledging what is currently happening to democracy and the rule of law in Israel, the resolution praises the Israeli government’s commitment to our ‘shared values’ and ‘democracy.’”

DeSaulnier took a similar tone in a statement provided to J.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier

“I support Israel as a democratic, Jewish state and join with many who are commemorating its 75th anniversary,” DeSaulnier said. “I do not, however, feel that the resolution was the appropriate way to mark the occasion, particularly as it notably omitted any reference to working toward a two-state solution, a longstanding bipartisan goal, or the troubling actions being taken by its current government.”

According to JTA, Democrats pressed for mention of the Palestinians and a two-state solution in the resolution. But Republicans, who control the House, rejected the language.

“This omission is a stark reminder of how extreme the Republican Party has become,” said Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. “It also demonstrates how out of touch Republicans are with the views of the vast majority of Jewish Americans, who support a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the best way to ensure Israel’s future as both a Jewish and democratic state.”

On the list of those who did not vote on the resolution were two Northern California representatives: Rep. Barbara Lee of the Oakland-Berkeley area, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Eric Swalwell of Livermore. Both joined a 2022 congressional trip to Israel.

Sean Ryan, Lee’s press officer, said that Lee was not present for the vote because she was recovering from knee surgery. Swalwell did not respond to an inquiry from J.

Lee recently spoke to pro-Israel Democrats, where she highlighted her opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Rep. Barbara Lee speaking at the Library of Congress, April 5, 2022. (Photo/Facebook-Congresswoman Barbara Lee)
Rep. Barbara Lee speaking at the Library of Congress, April 5, 2022. (Photo/Facebook-Congresswoman Barbara Lee)

“I don’t support BDS, and I get picketed a lot for that,” she said at an April 19 event organized by Democrats for Israel California.

Also not voting were Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego and Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine, who also is running for Feinstein’s seat.

Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, the third Democrat who has announced a bid for Feinstein’s seat, voted in favor of the resolution.

House Resolution 331 calls for the “expansion and strengthening of the Abraham Accords to urge other nations to normalize relations with Israel” and noted that the U.S. “supports Israel’s robust involvement as an active member of the community of nations to benefit Israel and the United States as partners who share common values and a commitment to democracy.”

The resolution also mentions existing U.S. aid to Israel, including the 2016 agreement to spend $38 billion on military aid for Israel over the next decade.

Most of those who voted against the resolution are part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has 100 voting members in the House, including Huffman and DeSaulnier. Lee and Porter, who did not vote on the resolution, are also members of that caucus.

Huffman has a track record as a staunch supporter of a two-state solution for Israel.

J Street, the liberal Israel advocacy group, donated $13,500 to Huffman’s campaign between 2021 and 2022, according to campaign finance tracker Open Secrets. J Street, a lobbying group, also released a statement on last week’s House resolution that voices disappointment with the lack of emphasis on a two-state solution.

Huffman spoke at 2022’s Marin “Here I Am” event, where residents and elected officials offered support to the Jewish community in the face of antisemitism.

His statement about last week’s resolution vote focused on the current crisis in Israel over the proposed judicial overhaul.

“Pretending that everything is just fine with democracy and the rule of law in Israel is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of brave Israeli citizens who have taken to the streets in protest because they know their democracy and our ‘shared values’ are in jeopardy,” Huffman said in the statement.

“I stand in solidarity with those protestors,” he continued, “and believe Congress should follow the lead of President Biden and other world leaders who are conveying grave concerns about the Netanyahu government’s radical agenda, not gaslighting and pretending everything is fine.”

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.