Opponents of Resolution on Israeli Settlements are One-Sided

Har Homa neighborhood in east Jerusalem. Boston Globe photo
Har Homa neighborhood in east Jerusalem. Boston Globe photo

A resolution on “Peace And Security For Israelis And Palestinians” has been submitted to the Democratic State Committee, and will be considered at the DSC meeting on April 29, 2017.  

Rather than rely on the characterization of its opponents as “one-sided,” I urge that you read the actual resolution, accessible on-line here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3674851-Coakley-Resolution.html

The resolution deplores violence and incitement against civilians from both sides; says that Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security; and supports a negotiated settlement in conformance with international law.  It doesn’t pretend to address every aspect of the conflict but affirms that Israeli settlements are obstacles to peace – long-standing US policy under every US President (except Donald Trump!) since Lyndon Johnson.  What’s “one-sided” about that?  

How can people purport to favor a two-state solution while refraining from any criticism of the Israeli settlement project that is making a two-state outcome impossible?

The settlements have never been cited as obstacles to peace in Congress, despite literally hundreds of resolutions and letters supporting the Israeli position and/or condemning only Palestinian violence and “incitement.” That’s one-sided.

There are now 800,000 Israelis living in settlements on Palestinian land beyond the internationally-recognized Green Line—100,000 more than when President Obama took office.  The settlements continue to expand. These settlements are directly or indirectly supported by billions of dollars in annual US aid to Israel, as well as more $billions in tax-deductible donations.  That is one-sided.

Opponents of the resolution argue that this is not a Massachusetts state issue.  However, there has been pro-Israel legislation at the State House without objection from these same quarters.  There is even a bill now before the legislature – backed by opponents of the DSC resolution — aimed at punishing free speech and civic action pressuring Israel to live up to its legal and human rights obligations. That is one-sided.  Numerous Massachusetts public officials from the Governor to the Attorney General and scores of members of the Massachusetts General Court have participated in Israeli government sponsored and lobbyist-paid trips to Israel. That’s one-sided too.

It is opponents of this resolution who are increasingly out of step with Democratic voters and long-standing US policy on this issue. Democratic voters supported the recent UN Security Council resolution reaffirming the illegality of Israeli settlements by 47-16%, even as many of their elected House representatives – including four from Massachusetts –were voting with the Republican majority to condemn it — and implicitly, President Obama as well. Democrats regard the Israeli settlements as illegal by 38-19% — with self-identified Liberals even more lopsided at 42-17%. Clinton voters opposed Israeli settlements by 49-14, while Trump voters supported them by 46-23%. A recent Brooking poll indicated that 60% of Democrats favored economic sanctions or more serious action against Israel over its settlement building. 

Opponents of the resolution argue that it is “divisive” because opinions within the Democratic Party differ on the issue. But the way to achieve consensus on an issue is to discuss and debate it. This is the way the Democratic Party has historically moved ahead.  Suppressing consideration of this issue by tabling the resolution will maintain divisions in the Party rather than moving to resolve them.   I ask Democrats to vote to have open debate on this important issue.

Jeff Klein is a member of the Ward 13 Democratic Committee in Dorchester, and a delegate to the 2017 Democratic State Convention.

See Video of the Settlements Resolution Forum held April 19 by a subcommittee of the DSC

Press coverage: 

State Democrats Roiled by Resolution Opposing Israeli Settlements,” Boston Globe, April 21

Massachusetts Democrats weigh competing Israeli-Palestinian resolutions that threaten to divide party,” MassLive, April 21

Massachusetts Peace Action staffer pushes anti-Israel plan,” Boston Herald, April 23

Mass. Democrats move to kill Israel resolution“, Boston Globe, April 24

Mass. Democrats wade into Mideast waters“, letters to the Boston Globe, April 25