U.S. House Votes Against Israeli Annexation of West Bank

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed on Friday a resolution opposing Israeli annexation of the West Bank. This is the first time such a resolution has passed in U.S. Congress, and while it is not legally binding, it displays growing opposition among the Democratic Party to the policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition.

House Resolution 326 states that any U.S. proposal to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict should endorse a two-state solution, and "discourage steps by either side that would put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach, including unilateral annexation of territory." It similarly opposes Palestinian efforts to attain statehood that do not involve negotiations with Israel.

The resolution was sponsored by California Democrat Alan Lowenthal and introduced to the House in April to express "sense of the House of Representatives that only a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can ensure Israel's survival as a secure Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations for a Palestinian state," the resolution's text reads. It also reaffirms continued U.S. military aid to Israel.

– Lowenthal

Proud to see the House pass my bipartisan resolution to affirm our support for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. We took a stand for a just peace which safeguards human rights and security, and stands against unilateral annexation and settlement expansion.

— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) December 6, 2019

The resolution was supported by 226 lawmakers and opposed by 188. While its supporters were largely Democrats, four from the party ranks voted against the measure, and five Republicans voted in favor.

The four Democrats who voted against the resolution were Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Occasion-Cortez and Ayanna Presley. This group of lawmakers, commonly referred to as “the squad,” have a history on more critical stances toward Israel. Tlaib voted against the resolution due to her opposition to the two-state solution. The other three opposed the decision to omit the word “occupation” from the resolution’s final version.  

The resolution passed days after Netanyahu told Israeli reporters that he discussed unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom he met earlier this week in Portugal.

Netanyahu has hinted several times in recent months that the Trump administration would support his September campaign promise of unilaterally annexing the Jordan Valley. The administration has not confirmed or denied those claims. Two weeks ago, the administration reversed the prevailing U.S. policy on settlements in the Palestinian territories by announcing that it no longer considers them illegal under international law.