Skip to main content

Anti-boycott resolution 'dangerous for Israel', Israeli lawmakers tell Congress

US resolution passed in July includes support for a two-state solution, which MKs say is 'more dangerous' than BDS
Lawmakers across the US have sought to restrict Israel boycotts (AFP/File photo)

A symbolic, anti-boycott resolution that passed in the US House of Representatives in late July is "dangerous for Israel", a group of right-wing Israeli lawmakers has argued, as the measure affirms support for the creation of a Palestinian state.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that nearly two dozen Israeli Knesset members signed and sent a letter to Congress stating that the non-binding resolution, known as HR-246, is harmful to Israel's interests.

The Israeli lawmakers said the measure contains "a grave error" in that it affirms support for the "two-state solution" to resolve the conflict - or the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"We would like to make our position clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state would be far more dangerous to Israel than BDS," they wrote, as reported by the Post.

BDS is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to end its rights abuses against Palestinians.

Deputy Defence Minister Eli Ben Dahan, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and Gideon Sa'ar and Avi Dichner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party signed the letter, the newspaper said.

Palestine advocates slam symbolic US resolution condemning Israel boycotts
Read More »

The Post did not include a full list of the letter's 21 signatories.

Their comments come just ahead of next month's parliamentary election in Israel, which was called when Netanyahu failed to form a government after a vote in April.

The political rhetoric has become more extreme in the lead-up to the election, with Israeli leaders advocating for more Jewish-only settlements to be built in the occupied West Bank - and for the annexation of the Palestinian territory altogether.

Netanyahu has also sought to use his relationship with Donald Trump - and the US president's support for some of the Israeli premier's most hawkish positions - to secure a victory at the polls.

The resolution

The US House of Representatives easily passed the anti-boycott resolution on 23 July by a vote of 398-17 condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

It came amid a nationwide push to curtail boycotts of Israel in the US, where dozens of states have enacted legislation to prohibit government agencies from contracting companies that support BDS.

"While ultimately toothless," the resolution "continues a dangerous trend of censuring criticism of the actions of the Israeli government," advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace said shortly after the vote in July.

'We would like to make our position clear that the establishment of a Palestinian state would be far more dangerous to Israel than BDS'

- Israeli lawmakers on HR-246

At the time, Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider, who introduced the motion, said it "sends a clear message that Congress continues to be united in support of the Jewish, democratic state of Israel and a two-state solution as the path to peace for both Israelis and Palestinians".

"At the same time, we condemn the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement that seeks to delegitimise Israel and block that path to peace," Schneider said in a statement.

A spokesman for Schneider told MEE in an email on Monday that he could not comment immediately on the Israeli lawmakers' letter, as the congressman was travelling back to the US from Israel, where he was on a week-long visit with 71 other members of Congress.

The spokesman added that Schneider's office had not received the final version of the letter.

The Times of Israel reported on Monday that the letter was sent to Schneider, as well as to Representatives Lee Zeldin, Jerry Nadler and Ann Wagner, who also backed the anti-boycott resolution.

According to the Times, the MKs wrote that establishing a Palestinian state would "severely damage" both Israeli and American national security.

"The affirmation of support for establishing a Palestinian state is so dangerous that we respectfully request that you take that into consideration, and in the future avoid determining that establishing an additional Arab state on territory that is the Land of Israel is part of the solution to the dispute," the letter reads.

The letter was spearheaded by Yossi Dagan, a vocal backer of Israel's settlement movement and head of the Samaria Regional Council, the Times reported.

Dagan is also a member of the National Conference of Likud, which the Israeli news outlet described as "an informal group of hawks within the ruling party".

Trump policies

Despite continued Israeli settlement-building in the occupied Palestinian territories, Washington has for decades advocated for a negotiated settlement to the conflict that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

The Trump administration has sought to avoid explicit references to a two-state solution, however, as the US president and his top advisers instead promote their so-called "Deal of the Century".

Earlier this year, Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and Middle East policy adviser, declined to say whether the administration supports a two-state solution.

'Dignity for dollars': Palestinians reject 'deal of the century' as false promise of prosperity
Read More »

He called the phrase "old school vernacular", in an interview with CNN on the sidelines of an economic conference in Bahrain in late June.

Trump has made several different comments on the issue, saying in September 2018 that he "like[s] a two-state solution" because "that's what [he] think[s] works best".

But later that same day, the president said he would be open to a one-state solution if that's what Israelis and Palestinians prefer.

"If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that's OK with me," Trump said, as reported by Reuters at the time.

"If they want two states, that's OK with me. I'm happy if they're happy."

While the Palestinian Authority wants an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, some Palestinians say a two-state solution is impossible today because of Israel's settlement expansion and control over Palestinian lands.