News Article

44 House Democrats express support for 2-state solution after Gaza war
February 24, 2024


By: Elizabeth Crisp

Nearly four dozen House Democrats have signed onto a letter calling for a two-state solution to resolve the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians as war rages in Gaza.

The letter, led by Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.), described the two-state proposal that would designate Israel and Palestine as separate entities as “the only viable path for a sustainable peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

The lawmakers urged President Biden in the letter to provide more details about his administration’s “strategy to bring peace to a decades-long conflict.”

“We will continue to stand firm in our support for both the Israeli and Palestinian people’s right to exist with dignity, peace and security,” they wrote. “The Israeli and Palestinian people deserve and require nothing less after decades of violence.”

Though Biden supports a two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls to open a path for a Palestinian state.

“In any future arrangement … Israel needs security control [over] all territory west of the Jordan,” Netanyahu said during a news conference last week. “This collides with the idea of sovereignty. What can you do?”

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby later noted it wasn’t a new position from Netanyahu.

“We obviously see it differently,” he told reporters last week. “We believe that the Palestinians have every right to live in an independent state with peace and security, and the president and his team is going to continue to work on that.”

A similar message was pushed in the Senate on Wednesday.  Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) led a group of 48 Democratic senators and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in announcing plans to file an amendment to the national security supplemental that “reiterates” the U.S.’s support for a two-state solution.

The group of senators included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The list did not include Sens. John Fetterman (D-Penn.) or Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

“The horrors of the war on and since October 7th have underscored the fundamental reality that in order for both Israelis and Palestinians to live in safety and with dignity, they need to have distinct, inalienable, and mutually-recognized states that coexist side-by-side in peace,” Schatz wrote in a statement on Wednesday.

Biden has suggested that he thinks Netanyahu’s mind could be changed on Palestinian autonomy. The two spoke for the first time in nearly a month last Friday, but the Israeli leader doubled down on his position over the weekend.

“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over the entire area west of Jordan — and this is contrary to a Palestinian state,” he wrote Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Israel’s latest conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza followed Hamas’s deadly attack on Israelis on Oct. 7. Israel has said more than 130 hostages remain in Hamas custody in Gaza.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s rejection of a two-state solution is unacceptable,” Himes, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement to The Hill. “After decades of violence, the Israeli and Palestinian people deserve to live safely and freely within secure borders.”

The House Democrats, in their letter to Biden, acknowledge that a path to compromise won’t be possible until perpetrators of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel “are brought to justice” and all hostages are released.

“The United States should continue to push for the existence of a sovereign Israeli and sovereign Palestinian state that coexist peacefully,” Himes said. “However distant this outcome may seem, it must remain at the forefront of our global conscience as the international community works to restore stability throughout the Middle East.”