December 28, 2016

Cardin Statement Following Secretary Kerry’s Speech on Israeli-Palestinian Peace

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Wednesday:

"Secretary of State John Kerry’s personal commitment to Middle East peace is well-known and admirable.  During his tenure at the State Department, his dedication to facilitating direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for a two-state solution was evidenced in his investment of time, travel, resources, and creative proposals.

“I welcome Secretary Kerry’s articulation of six principles that should guide direct negotiations between the parties for a secure, just, and realistic two-state solution.  He rightly stated that there cannot be two states living side by side in peace and security without recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and that Israel’s security needs must be satisfied.  Fundamental issues like borders and Jerusalem can only come from direct negotiations and cannot be dictated by any outside entity, and there must be recognition of the Jewish people’s historic ties to Jerusalem and its holy sites.  I am open to considering U.S. contributions to an international effort that would provide options for permanent homes for Palestinian refugees without affecting the fundamental character of Israel. 

“Though I share Secretary Kerry’s concerns with the lack of forward progress on a two-state solution, I remain disappointed by the Obama Administration’s decision not to veto UN Security Resolution 2334 last week.  The Resolution did not come close to the condemnation we heard from Secretary Kerry today regarding Palestinian leaders’ responsibility for the past year’s violence and terror.  More can be done to enable the viability of a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians are not willing and ready partners at this time.  Last week’s Resolution makes direct negotiations more, not less, challenging. 

“I agree with Secretary Kerry that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute could unlock broader peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.  There are opportunities for collaborating in countering violent extremism, pushing back on Iran’s destabilizing activities, and fostering greater economic cooperation.  But these opportunities will remain aspirational until we see more pressure on Palestinian leadership:  Hamas must accept Israel’s right to exist and cease its military buildup, and Fatah must demonstrate commitment to transparency, anti-corruption, and good governance.

“Going forward, I will explore Congressional action that can mitigate the negative implications of UN Security Resolution 2334.  I will also continue to support and promote direct negotiations between the parties.” 

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