Connolly Statement on House Passage of H.Res. 311
Washington, April 25, 2023
Tags: Foreign Policy
Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) released the following statement on H.Res. 311, a resolution “encouraging the expansion and strengthening of the Abraham Accords to urge other nations to normalize relations with Israel and ensure that existing agreements reap tangible security and economic benefits for the citizens of those countries and all peoples in the region,” which the House passed today:
“I have worked on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over four decades since I began as a staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1979. Israel, led by leaders like Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, was David fighting Goliath – a young, bold democracy under threats from every direction. Israel has long been America’s strongest ally, and our support for Israel’s democracy, economic stability, and defense is ironclad. On the 75th anniversary of Israel’s independence, I was proud to vote for a resolution that supports this remarkable milestone.
With that said, I am extremely disappointed that the resolution missed a crucial opportunity. The juxtaposition is startling: This resolution presumes business as usual when it is anything but.
We have reached an inflection point in the U.S.-Israel relationship. For 70 years we have found common cause with Israel because they have been the only democracy in the Middle East. For the first time in our history, an Israeli Prime Minister has put bipartisan support for Israel in jeopardy by exploiting partisan fissures within the United States, rejecting the notion of a two-state solution and opting to advance his own right-wing political agenda.
Netanyahu’s cabinet of right-wing extremists has put the very rights and political inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals, women, secular Jews, Palestinians, and Arabs alike in peril. As the United States continues to play a crucial role in supporting Israel, on a bipartisan basis, we must be clear that an aggressive anti-democratic tilt in Israel threatens our strong, longstanding partnership based on shared democratic values.
The resolution unfortunately did not mention the longstanding, bipartisan support for a two-state solution, nor did it condemn attacks against Israel’s democratic institutions, including an independent judiciary, and incitements of violence against Palestinians.
When Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made comments on March 3, 2023, suggesting the Palestinian city Huwara “needs to be wiped out, but the State of Israel needs to do it,” Arab nations involved in the Abraham Accords immediately condemned this abhorrent incitement of violence. To be clear, the actions of Ministers Ben Gvir and Smotrich to bless settler violence, incite violence against Palestinians, and threaten annexation of large portions of the West Bank imperil the Abraham Accords themselves, let alone the prospects for expansion to other Arab nations.
I cast my vote today, in support of Israel and the Abraham Accords, with great concern. My hope is that constructive U.S. engagement, and the will of the Israeli people in favor of a peaceful, democratic Jewish state, will be the forces that prevail.”