Today, Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) is introducing the Two-State Solution Act. The stated objective of this bill is to “preserve conditions for, and improve the likelihood of, a two-state solution that secures Israel’s future as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people, a viable, democratic Palestinian state, an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, and peaceful relations between the two states.”
While Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action), a new political advocacy organization affiliated with American Muslims for Palestine, appreciates the spirit of this bill and Rep. Levin’s outspokenness on issues of Palestinian human rights, AJP Action cannot support this bill because it does not center Palestinian human rights, it does not provide any clear mechanisms for holding Israel accountable for continuing to obstruct the goals of the bill, and it insists upon what many observers consider to be an outmoded framework for establishing a just peace.
Before determining the Representatives’ level of engagement with and support of this bill, AJP Action hopes that they will take the following points into consideration:
1. In its statement of policy, the bill prescribes a two-state resolution as the “only” acceptable outcome for a just and lasting peace. This ignores the reality that almost all credible analysts believe that the establishment of a Palestinian state is no longer feasible, and that previous Israeli offers of Palestinian “statehood” have been for a non-sovereign entity under Israel’s continued domination. This bill also fails to hold Israel accountable in any meaningful way for obstructing this goal through its ongoing colonization of Palestinian land. Moreover, a two-state resolution has never been the “only” acceptable resolution. Alternative proposals for a unitary democratic state for all people of historic Palestine have existed for more than one century and deserve consideration as well as Israel continues to exercise apartheid and settler-colonial rule over all of historic Palestine.
2. Also, in its statement of policy, the bill calls to “implement fully” the terms of the MOU signed between the United States and Israel in 2016. This is the quintessence of a “blank check” for Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. This statement of policy signals to Israel that no matter how egregious its obstruction of the goals of this bill are, and how appalling its violations of US laws, such as the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), are, Israel will continue to receive $3.8 billion in weapons each year regardless.
3. AJP Action greatly appreciates Section 5 of the bill, which would codify into law reference to the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), a requirement that Israeli settlement goods could not be falsely labeled as “Made in Israel”, and prohibit bilateral US-Israeli funding from being used in the OPT. However, this section does not overcome the bill’s other deficiencies; AJP Action believes that these codifications would work better as a stand-alone bill reframed to center Palestinian rights.
4. The intent of Section 6 of the bill, which establishes rules of construction on US assistance to Israel, amends the AECA, and calls for “robust oversight” to further the goals of the bill, is laudable; however, the lack of any concrete proposal for such “robust oversight”, the lack of any withholding or conditionality clauses, and the lack of any reporting requirements render this section meaningless. Existing provisions in the AECA and FAA are already in place to prevent Israel from committing the acts referred to in this section. The problem is not a lack of law. The problem is a lack of adherence to existing law and the political will to hold Israel accountable for violating these laws. Despite Israel’s daily violations of the AECA and FAA, Israel is never held accountable for those violations as required. In addition, as noted recently by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, existing US assistance to Israel is opaque, making tracking and accountability virtually impossible. This bill would not help remedy this opacity and does not address any of the specific policy recommendations of this report for making US assistance to Israel transparent. Moreover, the bill’s commitment to fully implement the MOU vitiates any additional rules of construction or expansions of the AECA–Israel will get its full funding regardless.
5. AJP Action applauds the fact that this bill seeks to prohibit Israel from utilizing US funds to demolish Palestinian homes, and colonize and annex Palestinian land. AJP Action also notes the fact that H.R.2590 has similar end-use restrictions, and also includes an end-use restriction on funds not going toward Israel’s detention and ill-treatment of Palestinian children. H.R.2590 also contains the reporting requirements that are lacking in the Two-State Solution Act to make these end-use restrictions meaningful. If Representatives are supporting the Two-State Solution Act because it imposes needed end-use restrictions, then by the logic of their position they should also cosponsor H.R.2590.