House Democrats overwhelmingly sign letter to Israel warning about annexation


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Most House Democrats have made it clear: Israel should desist from annexing parts of the West Bank.

As of Thursday, a letter to Israeli leaders warning of annexation’s perils had garnered 191 of the 233 members of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Among Jewish Democrats, 21 of 25 signed on.

“Our fear is that unilateral actions, taken by either side, will push the parties further from negotiations and the possibility of a final, negotiated agreement,” says the letter initiated by Reps. Ted Deutch of Florida, Jan Schakowsky and Brad Schneider of Illinois, and David Price of North Carolina. All are Jewish but Price.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to launch the annexation as soon as July 1.

The letter reaffirmed the U.S.-Israel relationship and did not threaten to cut off assistance to Israel.

Among the signers are the party’s leading pro-Israel lights, including Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the majority leader. The entire leadership of the caucus signed on, excluding Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as speakers rarely sign such letters. All of the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that administers foreign assistance signed.

The Jewish holdouts were Eliot Engel and Max Rose of New York, Elaine Luria of Virginia and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee opposed the letter.

At least 30 Democrats in the Senate have signed on to similar letters, and top figures associated with the campaign of Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, have issued similar warnings.

Netanyahu is citing President Donald Trump’s peace plan in pushing for annexation, although it is not clear if Trump backs the move at this early stage. Some 116 Republicans in the House and seven in the Senate have come out in support of annexation as envisioned in the plan.

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