As the U.N. General Assembly prepares to meet in New York City next week, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) reiterated his commitment to a direct negotiated two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and urged the Palestinian Authority not to seek a U.N. vote on statehood.
"A unilateral declaration made by the Palestinians does nothing to foster a lasting and meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Pascrell stated. "I firmly believe that peace can only be negotiated directly between Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
In February, Rep. Pascrell signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for the administration to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements, and reject any related statement against Israel at the U.N. The letter states that issues between Israel and Palestine can only be discussed and resolved through direct, bilateral negotiations and not through international bodies like the U.N. The text of the letter is below.
The Obama Administration has said it has made a commitment to veto the bid for statehood if it goes before the U.N. Security Council.
Rep. Pascrell also reacted to a statement attributed to the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Ambassador to the United States, Maen Areikat, in a Sept. 13, 2011 report by USA Today:
"After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated," Areikat was reported as saying.
"It is this kind of rhetoric that is preventing the two sides from reaching a peaceful solution. Israel is a democracy and there are over 1.3 million Muslim citizens who live, work and vote in the country. The short sighted comments of Ambassador Areikat only fuel animosity, and do nothing to resolve critical issues in an already volatile region," Pascrell said.
Rep. Pascrell is also a cosponsor of H.Res 268, which reaffirmed the United States' commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This resolution supports a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a democratic Palestinian state living in peace and mutual recognition. It also states that any Palestinian unity government must forswear terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with Israel. This resolution passed the House on July 7, 2011.
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
As unrest continues in the Middle East, the United States must remain steady in its unyielding support of our friend and ally, Israel. Sadly, Israel is in a volatile region of the world where her values of self determination and democracy are under constant attack.
Reports have surfaced that the United States is negotiating with a group of Arab nations about supporting a possible United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presidential statement critical of Israel and possibly taking other similar steps in exchange for Arab agreement to withdraw a UNSC resolution deeming Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal.
It is also not clear whether the U.S. would veto a resolution on settlements should it be brought to the U.N. Security Council. It should not be the practice of the U.S. to be conducting back door deals, of any sort, that weaken the strategic interests of any ally -- let alone one of our closest allies. We strongly urge you to make it clear that the U.S. will oppose any U.N. efforts to pressure Israel on the "settlements" issue. U.N. action merely further complicates a final-status issue that needs to be negotiated directly between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israel is a faithful ally of the United States, and these unprecedented steps at the U.N. would mark a disconcerting change in U.S. foreign policy. These actions would also send harmful signals to America's allies worldwide, not just for our ally, Israel.
Israel has taken unilateral steps to bring peace to the region. This notably includes the 10-month construction moratorium on new construction activity in the West Bank. If housing and commercial construction were truly the main obstacle to peace, as stated by Palestinian observer at the U.N. Riyad Mansour, then the Palestinian Authority would have come to the peace table during this moratorium. American pressure needs to be exerted on the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. These issues can only be discussed and resolved through direct, bilateral negotiations and not through bodies like the United Nations.
As Members of Congress, we urge Administration officials not to appease Arab states at the expense of Israel. The U.S. must remain steadfast in its support of Israel, veto the upcoming U.N. Security Council resolution, and otherwise reject any related statement against Israel at the U.N. We look forward to your immediate reply to this time-sensitive situation.