Party Platforms and Israel
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
This week the platform committees of both the Republican and Democratic Convention began their work on finalizing their respective party platforms. With respect to foreign policy in general and U.S. relations with Israel in particular there were some interesting actions. While this appears to be the recommendations of the two parties’ committees, there will be opportunities according to the parties’ respective rules for some floor debate and even some changes, should the delegates be so inclined. Traditionally, challenges to the Republican Party platform come from the right wing of the party while challenges to the Democratic Party platform come from the left.
Specifically, the Republican Party platform committee did not come out in support of a two-state solution thereby supporting the views of a large portion on the right of the Netanyahu Government; although Bibi himself has said he personally believes in a two-state solution resolution to the conflict. The Committee, specifically, called for the U.S. to assist in “…the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region.” It also opposed the U.S. dictating borders or imposing an agreement. The platform recognized Jerusalem as the Capital of the Jewish State and expressed opposition to the BDS which it characterized as a form of anti-Semitism. This text is significantly more strongly pro-Israel’s Government than previously and reflects the more hardline views of many pro-Israel activists in the U.S., although not necessarily those in Israel outside of the strong right-wing element in Bibi’s coalition.
On the Democratic side the Clinton wing of the party defeated the Sanders supporters’ effort to insert platform language which have expressed direct criticism of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and treatment of the Palestinians. The amendment supported by Sanders appointee Cornell West was defeated 95-73 but it did engender considerable debate and controversy as had been expected. The platform plank as the Democrats have traditionally done expressed support for a two-state solution as well as for Israel’s security protection and qualitative military edge.
For the Clinton supporters this vote protected them from the allegations which had been made by many Jewish Republicans who predicted she would cave in to the Sanders forces on this issue. This is not to suggest that this matter could not again be debated on the floor on the second day of the Democratic Convention.