Would have recognized Israel as a national homeland for the Jewish people and further reaffirmed Congress’ enduring support for the U.S.-Israeli relationship, Israel’s security, its right to exist as a democratic Jewish state, and its right to self-defense.
Introduced nearly every year, resolutions commemorating the founding of Israel typically pass overwhelmingly and without controversy. Included in this resolution however, are whereas clauses that take critical aim at the Obama administration’s diplomatic dispute with the Netanyahu government over settlement construction in East Jerusalem. These clauses cite a statement by Obama during his presidential election campaign that Jerusalem must remain undivided; and a statement by Binyamin Netanyahu at the 2010 America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference that ‘Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.’
The dispute between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government also featured prominently in the AIPAC lobbying effort following its 3/21-3/23/10 policy conference in Washington, DC. AIPAC helped organize 500 meetings for 4,000 of its supporters with their Members of Congress and instructed them to ask for their Senators’ and Representative’s support for four specific items. One of these four ‘asks’ was to gain their members’ signatures for one of two letters circulating through Congress (one for members of the House and one for Senators) expressing support for Israel in the midst of the settlement dispute.
The letters were addressed to Secy. of State Clinton and urged her to act to reduce tensions with Israel. Both closely echoed an AIPAC press release issued on 3/14/10 stressing the strategic importance of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, warning that the tensions were distracting both nations from the peace process and the threat from Iran, and containing the same quote by Vice President Jo Biden saying ‘Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the U.S. and Israel.’
Amplifying the message further, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) who initiated the House letter, delivered speeches at the conference stressing the need for the U.S. to keep disagreements with Israel private.
In addition to Hoyer and Cantor the House letter was originally signed and circulated by the senior Democrats and Republicans with power over legislation dealing with U.S. foreign affairs in the Middle East: Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HCFA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican Member on the HCFA; Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Chairman of the HCFA Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia; and Dan Burton Ranking Republican on the Subcommittee. It was delivered to Clinton with 334 signatures (327 gathered in three days) on 3/26/10. The Senate version was originally signed and circulated by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and sent on 4/13/10 with 76 signatures.
See also: related measures H. Res. 1191 of 3/18/10, SA 3690 to H.R. 4872 of 3/24/10, and H. Con. Res. 271 of 4/29/10.