1. Statement
  2. Middle East & Iran

Congress Stands Up for Peace in the Middle East

By Hassan El-Tayyab, December 11, 2019

On Dec. 6, the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 326, a resolution affirming U.S. support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and opposing unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory. This resolution is an explicit rejection of the administration’s efforts to undermine the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.

For decades, FCNL has urged the U.S. to press for a two-state solution, an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, and respect for human rights and international law.

The House resolution states the sense of Congress that “a United States proposal to achieve a just, stable, and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should expressly endorse a two-state solution as its objective and discourage steps by either side that would put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach, including unilateral annexation of territory or efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood status outside the framework of negotiations with Israel.” The House notes that U.S. presidents of both political parties have opposed settlement expansion and calls for resuming foreign assistance to the Palestinians.

It is critical that Congress continue to publicly oppose Israel’s expansion of settlements and annexation of Palestinian territory.

We regret that this resolution also states that “it is in the enduring United States’ national interest to continue to stand by its ironclad commitments under the 2016 United States-Israel Memorandum of Understanding,” which was the largest single pledge of U.S. military assistance to Israel in history, but makes no mention of conditioning that aid on adherence to international humanitarian law or on progress towards negotiating a just and peaceful solution. Because this is a House Resolution, rather than a bill or a joint or concurrent resolution, H. Res. 326 does not have the force of law and will not be sent to the Senate for action.

While this resolution has flaws and did not go as far as we would have liked, FCNL applauds Congress for rejecting the administration’s actions to undermine the possibility of a negotiated solution. In particular, we are concerned by the administration’s actions to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, declare that settlements are not a violation of international law, and cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of economic and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.

It is critical that Congress continue to publicly oppose Israel’s expansion of settlements and annexation of Palestinian territory, which are not only immoral and harmful to the prospects for peace, but in violation of international law and longstanding U.S. policy.

The ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians fuels resentment and violence around the Middle East, and the continued growth of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory makes a two-state solution increasingly complicated. We commend congressional efforts to push back against policies that exclude, oppress and dehumanize Palestinians and will continue our longstanding efforts to convince U.S. lawmakers to play a more constructive role in laying the groundwork for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Hassan El-Tayyab

  • Legislative Manager for Middle East Policy

Hassan El-Tayyab is FCNL’s lead lobbyist on Middle East policy. He is also responsible for representing FCNL with the various coalitions that work on these issues.