Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Calif. Democrats Adopt Resolution Urging Direct Negotiations for Peace

March 5, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In the first political grassroots signal on the Middle East since the end of the fighting in the Persian Gulf, delegates to the California State Democratic Party convention in Oakland overwhelmingly endorsed direct negotiations among the region’s conflicting players as the best chance for peace in the Middle East.

In a resolution introduced Sunday by some 400 delegates belonging to Democrats for Israel, the convention called on the U.S. government “to work toward direct, party-to-party bilateral talks to achieve a peaceful solution to Arab-Arab, Arab-Israel and Palestinian-Israel conflicts.”

An opposing resolution, backed by Arab-American groups and their supporters, was handily defeated. It called for an international peace conference under U.N. auspices and for “national self-determination” for all peoples of the region, a clear allusion to the Palestinians.

Noting the growing influence of California as the most politically potent state in the country, pro-Israel forces hailed passage of the resolution as a harbinger of the likely national Democratic platform on the Middle East.

But one official pointed out that the resolution calls on Israel to make a good-faith attempt at peace.

“Inherent in this resolution is the sense that Israel must seriously sit down with its Arab neighbors and do something about the Palestinian problem,” said David Nagler, executive director of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee, the political arm of all Jewish federations in California.

“The convention felt that there is now an opportunity for a lasting peace in the Middle East and that all the parties will have to give up something,” Nagler said.

Pro-Palestinian groups played a strong and skillful role at last year’s party convention. But their impact seemed more muted this year, in the wake of the Gulf war, said Richard Hirschhaut, Central Pacific regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

“We didn’t see the same level of organization and slick literature as last year,” said Hirschhaut, who, like Nagler, played an active role at the convention.

Hirschhaut also praised the effective work of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and of Democrats for Israel.

Recommended from JTA