Romney running-mate Rep. Paul Ryan’s congressional Web page files his position on Israel under the category “Homeland Security,” along with his stances on Iraq, Afghanistan and various national defense issues.
Some of Ryan’s fellow conservatives — like Rep. Joe Walsh, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum — have in recent months made statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that have raised some eyebrows. But the positions that Ryan espouses on his congressional site seems solidly within the mainstream of the bipartisan pro-Israel consensus. Ryan doesn’t climb out on any major limbs, and he sounds notes that could be applauded by both pro-Israel centrists and doves. He even notes that "reasonable people… differ" about how the conflict can be resolved.
Here are some of the main points he makes:
* He refers to Israel as America’s “best friend” in the Middle East, hails it as “the region’s only fully functioning democracy” and a “valuable ally against Islamic extremism and terrorism.”
* He suggests that peace is an American interest. “Americans also have a strong interest in Israel achieving a lasting peace with its neighbors — including the Palestinians.”
* But he cautions that the U.S. “cannot advocate for a solution” that “jeopardizes Israel’s safety or legitimizes terrorism,” and he notes the powerful influence in Palestinian politics of Hamas (“an Islamist terrorist group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence, and calls Osama Bin Laden a ‘martyr’”).
* He suggests — without getting into details — that there are certain types of American pressure on Israel that he would not support: “America should not pressure Israel to agree to a peace deal that is unlikely to result in peace and security.”
* But he embraces a two-state solution, arguing that any real peace “will require Palestinians to recognize that Israel has a right to exist, even as it will require two states for the two peoples.”
While Israel’s opponents would certainly have their objections, and some on the far right of the pro-Israel spectrum might object to his support for a two-state solution, this statement isn’t likely to elicit too many complaints from other quarters.
J Streeters could find elements that they like (support for a two-state solution, depiction of peace as an American national interest) and Israel supporters who are more focused on Palestinian shortcomings might particularly appreciate Ryan’s rebuke of Hamas and his insistence that Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist (though, it should be noted, he stops short of explicitly demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted).
Here is Ryan’s full position statement on Israel:
America has no better friend in the Middle East than the nation of Israel. Not only is Israel the region’s only fully functioning democracy, with a government based on popular consent and the rule of law, but it is also a valuable ally against Islamic extremism and terrorism. Our shared democratic values and national interests are supported by maintaining a close friendship with Israel. Americans also have a strong interest in Israel achieving a lasting peace with its neighbors – including the Palestinians.
Reasonable people – including those who live in the Middle East – differ about how the conflict between Israel and Palestine can be resolved. However, I believe at least one thing is clear: we cannot advocate for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that jeopardizes Israel’s safety or legitimizes terrorism. Hamas, which is one of the two major Palestinian political factions, is an Islamist terrorist group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence, and calls Osama Bin Laden a “martyr.”
While I do not have a role in the diplomatic discussions over the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America should not pressure Israel to agree to a peace deal that is unlikely to result in peace and security. Real peace will require Palestinians to recognize that Israel has a right to exist, even as it will require two states for the two peoples. Introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on May 13, 2011, H. Res. 268 reaffirms the United States’ commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct negotiations. I co-sponsored this legislation, and it passed the House on July 7, 2011 by a vote of 407-13. I was also a cosponsor of H.R. 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, also introduced by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, which passed the House on May 9, 2012 by a vote of 411-2. H.R. 4133 states that it is United States policy to reaffirm the commitment to Israel’s security as a state, provide Israel with the military capabilities to defend itself, expand military and civilian cooperation, assist in a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize its right to exist.