Israel ‘occupation’ amendment rejected by Democratic platform drafters


(JTA) — The committee drawing up the Democratic Party’s platform rejected an amendment that would have called for an end to Israel’s “occupation and illegal settlements,” with members pledged to presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reportedly leading the opposition.

The Clinton backers said adding such language to the party’s call for a two-state solution would inflame tensions and hurt future U.S. efforts in peace talks.

Following the 95-73 vote on Saturday by the Democratic National Committee’s platform drafters, supporters of Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s rival for the nomination, reportedly jeered and chanted “Free, free Palestine,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Prominent scholar Cornel West, a Sanders appointee to the Platform Committee and a proponent of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, spoke in favor of the amendment, saying Democrats should show “double love.”

“We ought to have a love for our precious Jewish brothers and sisters and a love for Palestinians,” he told the 187-member committee on Saturday in Orlando, Florida.

The platform draft dated July 1 said of Israel: “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism. That is why we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.

“We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity. While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement. Palestinians should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and dignity.”

For months Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win a major party nominating state vote, has sought to elevate the issue of Palestinian rights in the platform.

Clinton has secured enough delegates to win in the first round of voting for the nomination at the convention in Philadelphia July 25-28. Sanders was given five spots on the platform drafting committee — unusual for a losing candidate — a reflection of the strength of his campaign.

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