WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of conservative Republicans in Congress have launched a pro-Israel caucus predicated on getting the Palestinians to acknowledge defeat.
The co-chairs of the new Israel Victory Caucus, Reps. Bill Johnson of Ohio and Ron DeSantis of Florida, were among those on hand for Thursday’s launch. A number of other Republicans stopped by to express support; no Democrats spoke.
“We believe Israel has been victorious in the war and that this reality must be recognized for any peace to be achieved between Israel and its neighbors,” Johnson said.
An array of conservative pro-Israel groups was represented, including the Middle East Forum, the Zionist Organization of America, Emet, Christians United for Israel and Americans for a Safe Israel.
Daniel Pipes, the Middle East Forum president, who recently laid out the theory that imposing defeat on the Palestinians was the likelier path to peace, said decades of negotiations assuming neither side had won had resulted in a “war process” instead of a peace process.
“Victory means imposing your will on your enemy,” Pipes said.
Code Pink, a left-wing protest group, briefly disrupted the event.
Pipes’ paper, published in the March issue of Commentary, acknowledges that Israelis prefer a negotiated solution, but calls this consensus “myopic.” Instead, he advocates “coercing” Palestinians to change their view, including reoccupation of Palestinian areas should they be used to launch attacks on Israel and cutting off water and electricity as a means of responding to intensified violence.
A bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus exists and embraces pro-Israel policies identified with more conservative supporters of Israel, including the recognition of all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. However, like much of the pro-Israel community, it defers to Israeli government positions on the peace process.
Liberal groups slammed the Israel Victory Caucus, with the Southern Poverty Law Center saying its recommendations were “extreme” and J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby, advising Congress members to “stay as far away from such savage and dangerous ideas as possible.”