June 3, 2020
News Press Release

ZOA Criticizes 19 Senators Threatening Israel If It Applies Sovereignty to Parts of Judea Samaria

ZOA President Morton A. Klein and Chair Mark Levenson, Esq. released the following statement: 

ZOA strongly criticizes a dangerous letter authored by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Tim Kaine (D-VA),signed by 19 U.S. Senators – all of them Democrats – sent to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gantz. The letter threatens damage to the U.S. relationship with Israel if the new, democratically-elected Israeli unity government considers voting in July to extend Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, (where 500,000 Jews live), and the Jordan Valley.  Israel’s extension of sovereignty is in fact lawful under binding international law, and is called for under the new plan for Middle East peace plan announced by the Trump Administration in January.

The letter is an affront to Israel; ignores the democratic values and essential Israeli security needs that these senators claim to be concerned about; and calls for giving the intransigent, terror-financing, pay to slay Palestinian-Arabs veto-power over Israel’s rights to lands that were guaranteed to the Jewish people to re-establish the Jewish homeland 100 years ago, at the San Remo Conference.

ZOA calls on these Democratic senators to rescind this letter:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT)

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

ZOA further asks the other 81 Senate colleagues to issue a positive letter reaffirming the unbreakable bond between the United States and our ally Israel, and standing by whatever decision the democratically-elected government of Israel decides upon regarding extending sovereignty.

Democratic values:

The 19 Democrats’ letter misleadingly claims that the signers are “concerned” that “unilateral annexation” (a misnomer for Israel’s lawful exercise of her sovereignty rights) “puts both Israel’s security and democracy at risk.”

Contrary to that insinuation in the letter, Israel is in fact a paragon of democracy.  Exercising sovereignty would express the democratic will of Israel’s people.   Israel held three national elections in a less than a year, which included all Israeli citizens of voting age eligible to vote.  Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and other religious minorities all participated in these elections. The new Israeli unity government was approved with broad support.  Seventy-two (out of 120) Knesset members voting for the new government, ranging from members of the Labor Party on the left to the Likud party on the right; and from the secular to the religiously observant members.  Any possible extension of Israeli sovereignty would be voted on by the Knesset in a democratic process.

Israeli security needs:

The claim in the 19 senators’ letter that they have “a deep commitment to Israel’s security” is contradicted by their letter’s opposition to Israeli sovereignty.  Opposition to Israeli sovereignty seriously harms Israeli security.

Security experts – including over 1,000 high-ranking Israeli Defense Forces officers and commanders of the “Protectors of Israel” movement – confirm that sovereignty is necessary to secure Israel and maintain defensible borders.  Without Israeli control of the Jordan Valley, the Jewish state would be just nine miles wide at its “waist,” and at great risk.  The Arabs launched multiple attacks against Israel from Jordanian territory through the Jordan Valley. Moreover, this policy of sovereignty was first introduced by Israel’s leftwing Labor party in the form of the Allon Plan in the late 60’s. 

These senators’ complaint that extending Israeli sovereignty over some areas of Judea and Samaria would interfere with creating a “viable, sovereign, independent and contiguous [Palestinian-Arab] state” and result in a “fragmented and disconnected array of Palestinian islets surrounded by Israeli territory,” ignores the fact that not extending Israeli sovereignty would fragment, disconnect and interfere with the viability and continuity of the established Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that Israel will not be giving up.

A Palestinian-Arab state would not be subjected to the aggressive attacks that Israel have been subjected to since Israel’s rebirth.  According, a Palestinian State would not need contiguity – while Israel does need it.  Further, it should be noted that Alaska and Hawaii are not contiguous to the United States mainland, and President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” calls for a connector between the Gaza Strip and whatever Palestinian-Arab entity may arise.

Additionally, the 19 Senators’ letter creates a rift in American support for Israel that could embolden those who want to destroy Israel and murder Jews.

Jewish rights and Arab intransigence:

The senators’ letter also wrongly claims: “Annexation would betray our shared democratic values by denying Palestinians’ right to self-determination . . .”

There is in fact no lawful Palestinian-Arab “right to self-determination” in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.  These are parts of the lands guaranteed to the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish state under binding international law.  Just a month ago, the world marked the 100th anniversary of the San Remo Conference and San Remo resolution adopted by the victorious world powers at the conclusion of World War I.   The San Remo resolution made the Balfour Declaration, which called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” into a binding obligation.  The “Mandatory” (Britain) was required by put the Balfour declaration into effect, in accordance with mandate system adopted by Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant.  Further, under the Mandate for Palestine, the League of Nations confirmed that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” and called for “close settlement by Jews on the land while ensuring that “no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.”  The Anglo-American Convention and UN Charter Article 80 (both U.S.-international treaty obligations) again confirmed the Jewish people’s rights to these lands.  This standard still stands. 

Moreover, the Arabs rejected incredibly over-generous offers for a state of their own, on lands guaranteed to the Jewish people, at least a half-dozen times between 1937 and 2008 – including offers giving the Arabs some 95 percent of the territory they claim they wanted.  The Arabs scuttled every potential deal because they refused to agree to end their aggression and claims against Israel and refused to recognize a Jewish state of Israel in any shape or size.  There is no indication that the Palestinian-Arabs will agree to these two basic stipulations for peace in the future.  The Palestinian-Arabs have also been infringing on the rights of Israelis living in “Area C” of the Oslo Accords, which specifically permit Jewish communities in these areas of Judea and Samaria.

Thus, the senators’ expressed concern for Palestinian-Arab “self-determination” is misplaced.  The Palestinian-Arabs are their own impediment to “self-determination.”  Hamas terrorists control the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian-Authority dictators controls the Arab communities in Judea and Samaria.  About 98 percent of Palestinian-Arabs are governed by these entities.  It is the Palestinian-Arab leadership that denies their people democracy and basic democratic freedoms, and has refused to hold a democratic election since 2005.  

“Annexation” and “Palestinian territory” are the wrong terms

The 19 lawmakers’ letter uses the improper, misleading terms “annexation” and “Palestinian territory.”   The term “annexation” misleadingly implies that Israel is taking another party’s sovereign territory.  Here, Israel has the longstanding sovereign right to Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley under international law.  This is not “Palestinian territory.”  The correct phrase is Israel’s extension of Israeli law to areas to which Israel has sovereign rights.  

Bi-partisan relationship

The senators’ letter claims that an extension of Israeli sovereignty over these areas “would have a clear impact on both Israel’s future and our vital bilateral and bipartisan relationship.” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that foreign policy is determined by the executive branch – not by Congress.  Israel’s extension of sovereignty is in accord with President Trump’s peace proposal.  Moreover, any damage to the “bipartisan relationship” with Israel would be caused solely by these 19 lawmakers’ own statements.  The minority of Democratic lawmakers who sign letters hostile to Israel are responsible for attempting to transform the U.S.-Israel relationship into a partisan issue.   

Fear-mongering

The senators’ letter repeats the same unfounded fears about others’ reactions that were raised when the United States prepared to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s eternal capital Jerusalem.  

In fact, moderate Arab nations, including Jordan, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have tacitly acquiesced to Israel’s extension of sovereignty.  Those nations’ and Israel’s shared common interest in thwarting Iranian aggression will be enhanced by Israel’s extension of sovereignty.  

Notably, the senators’ letter merely claims that Israel’s extension of sovereignty will be “nearly universally viewed as a violation of international law.”  The senators have used the term “viewed” because the extension of sovereignty is not, in fact, a violation of international law.   

The senators’ letter ends on this disingenuous note: “Pursuit of a viable, negotiated two state solution is essential to ensuring our shared democratic values and lasting bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.”  There is nothing democratic about creating a Palestinian-Arab terror state on lands guaranteed to the Jewish people under international law. And the Palestinian Authority have turned down a State three times in the last 20 years and 6 times in the last 83 years, and they never established a Palestinian State when the Arabs controlled Judea Samaria and eastern Jerusalem and Gaza between 1948-67. Because the Arabs will not accept a Palestinian State if it means accepting a Jewish State within any borders. They have refused to even sit down and negotiate with Israel for over 10 years! The Palestinian Arabs goal remains Israel’s destruction and murdering Israeli Jews-not Statehood!