LONDON: Dozens of former US national security officials have urged the Democratic Party to oppose Israel’s occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory, and to take a more balanced approach to the conflict.
In a letter sent to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Monday, more than 30 former officials urged the party to explicitly support the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and freedom as part of its agenda in November’s presidential elections.
“The 2020 platform should expressly state a commitment to a resolution of the conflict that ensures both Israel’s security and future as a Jewish and democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens, as well as Palestinian rights, including self-determination, security and freedom,” the letter reads.
The Trump administration, it says, has made a “sovereign, independent and contiguous Palestinian state impossible.” This, the letter says, harms Palestinians and undermines the US-Israel special relationship.
Signatories include former ambassadors to Israel, national security directors, Obama-era presidential advisors and many others close to the issue.
A statement issued by J Street, a US-based Jewish organization, welcomed the letter’s “explicit commitment to Palestinian rights” and “opposition to Israeli occupation and potential unilateral annexation in the West Bank.”
While Democratic support for Israel has previously been overwhelming, 2020 has seen growing criticism from within the party, and support for Palestine is becoming increasingly mainstream.
“I just don’t think that the DNC political apparatus is going to be able to ignore the support for Palestinian human rights that exists among Democratic voters,” said Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute.
“It’s no longer considered out of the norm to start asking very meaningful questions about what US policy is doing to further harm the rights of millions of people in Palestine.” Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has previously described himself as a Zionist and “stalwart supporter” of Israel.
But as attitudes within the party are changing, Berry said, it will be difficult for him to govern with unconditional support for Israel.
The letter to the DNC came as more than 15 years of legal back and forth over a $900 million lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) came to an end.
The PA and PLO were accused of enabling a terrorist attack that killed US citizens, but the lawsuit was thrown out at the US Court of Appeals because it “lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants.”