Jewish Democratic Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) is introducing legislation that would make a two-state solution official U.S. policy.
Named the “Two-State Solution Act,” it states that “only the outcome of a two-state solution can both ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own,” Politico first reported.
It further states that the “West Bank”, including eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, are “occupied territories”—wording that should be referred to “consistently” in official U.S. policies, communications and documents.
The legislation also labels Israeli settlements in these “occupied territories” and “inconsistent with international law,” while “settlement expansion, demolitions of Palestinian homes, revocations of residency permits and forced evictions of Palestinian civilians by Israel [all] impede the establishment of a Palestinian state and violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.”
The legislation has already gained the support of 18 Democratic co-sponsors, including Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
In addition to the legislation’s push to codify a two-state solution, Levin also lays out several key proposals to encourage the outcome, which are likely to generate debate and objections from more moderate pro-Israel lawmakers.
Among the proposals, Levin’s legislation calls for labeling products made in the disputed territories as made in “West Bank/Gaza” and not “Made in Israel”; conditioning U.S. foreign aid to Israel; supporting humanitarian aid to the Palestinians for “human rights, democracy and rule of law”; the reopening of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, as well as the PLO’s mission in Washington, D.C.; and reforming the Palestinian’s “pay for slay” practice.
The bill will likely face an uphill battle in the House, especially from more moderate pro-Israel Democrats. These Democrats will likely object to portions of the legislation, such as conditioning of American aid to Israel, which touched off a firestorm in Congress in May when several progressive lawmakers led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sought to block U.S. military sales to Israel during the 11-day conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
While the Biden administration has renewed calls for a two-state solution, restored U.S. aid to the Palestinians and is pushing for the reopening of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, it remains unclear if its foreign-policy team or congressional leadership will support the legislation, according to Politico.
The Israeli government is opposed to the reopening of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling it a “bad idea.”
Nevertheless, it highlights the ongoing rift in the Democratic Party over Israel, which was on display this week when progressive lawmakers forced the removal of U.S. funding of Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system from budget legislation.
In addition to being supported by several progressive lawmakers, the legislation is also being backed by the left-wing Jewish group J Street, with its president Jeremy Ben-Ami calling it the “single-most comprehensive piece of legislation on the two-state solution that I’ve seen since I’ve been working on this issue.”
AIPAC, however, has come out against the legislation.
“While the bill has laudable objectives, it is unbalanced and seeks to impose a solution on Israelis and Palestinians rather than encouraging direct negotiations between the parties. Therefore, we oppose the bill,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman told JNS.
Going further, the CUFI Action Fund slammed the legislation, saying it has no chance to pass Congress.
“Despite its seemingly innocuous name, this legislation is just another assault on Israel from the fringe-left. The American people are pro-Israel, and as a result, this legislation is destined to fail. Rep. Levin’s bill will never reach the president’s desk,” Sandra Parker, chairwoman of the CUFI Action Fund, told JNS.