The usual dovish pro-Israel suspects are lining up behind a non-binding resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, ostensibly welcoming George Mitchell as the new envoy to the Israeli Palestinian talks – but, more substantially, introducing language pressing for "aggressive" U.S. engagement in the peace process.
The resolution, initiated by U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) "dropped" Wednesday with just 31 co-sponsors – it’s usually not a great idea to let these things see light of day before they hit the 100 mark in the 435-member House, otherwise they get forgotten.
Those backing the resolution include J Street, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center. The groups (can someone please come up with a more elegant shorthand than "dovish pro-Israel ") insist that they will succeed in signing on more members.
We’ll see, but I will note this: 31 would usually be kind of a sad number – except, in this case, eight of the co-sponsors are Jewish. That’s a quarter of the 32 Jewish members in the House. And that is notable.
Anyway, here’s some of the de rigeur happy talk from Delahunt, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, as well as the groups backing the measure:
The resolution concludes by supporting Mitchell’s appointment and mission, reaffirming that Israeli-Palestinian peace is in the US national interest, and thanking those who have worked to promote peace in the Middle East.
Delahunt noted that he deliberately introduced this legislation before Senator Mitchell returns to the region at the end of the month so as to send a signal of support for the envoy’s efforts.
J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami:
There’s a fresh breeze blowing in Washington when it comes to American policy toward Israel and the Middle East.. This resolution and last week’s letter to Secretary of State Clinton calling for humanitarian aid for Gaza demonstrate how broadly Congress supports the new administration’s effort to engage constructively in resolving the difficult conflicts facing the Middle East and earning the trust once again of all the parties to those conflicts.
Americans for Peace Now’s Ori Nir
The resolution gives the Obama administration the congressional tailwind that they need to reassert America’s role as the chief peacemaker in the region. This measure is a clear indication that Congress stands firmly behind the Obama administration’s support of a two-state solution.
The Jewish co-sponsors are:
Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.)