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Thursday, September 15, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer Hoyer (MD) led a letter that was signed by 58 House Democrats including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman, and Ranking Member on the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Nita Lowey that is being sent to 40 key European heads of state today, urging them to stand with the United States in opposing unilateral action by the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations. In their letter, the members warn that there may be "devastating consequences for the peace process" should the Palestinians proceed unilaterally, and they make clear that direct negotiations are the only path forward to a just and lasting peace. The letter cites further risks of acting unilaterally, including the potential for violence on the ground and a reconsideration of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
"We share with our friends and allies a determination to see this conflict ended peacefully," Hoyer said. "Voting together to oppose unilateral steps that set peace back would strongly reaffirm our common commitment to this shared goal and to the longstanding principle enshrined in the Oslo Accords that both parties ought to reach a solution through direct negotiations. Quite fundamentally, it would be an expression of our common values."
"Realizing the goal of two states, living side-by-side in peace and security, is only possible through direct talks - not in the halls of the UN General Assembly," Pelosi said. "A vote for Palestinian statehood will not advance the peace process; it will impede it. The nations of the world must make it clear: a lasting peace cannot be imposed on Israel or the Palestinian people - it can only be negotiated between the parties themselves."
“This is a historic moment in the Middle East. An inflammatory UN resolution, particularly one that unleashes international legal action against Israel, will put Middle East peace prospects on hold for years, if not decades," Berman said. "We are counting on our friends and allies to stand with us at this critical time."
Below is the full text of the letter:
We write on a matter of great urgency, on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly meeting. It is our understanding that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority will pursue a resolution at the United Nations – in either or both the Security Council and the General Assembly – to grant the Palestinians the equivalent of statehood and/or prejudge final issues, including borders and the status of Jerusalem. One of the major goals of this effort is for the Palestinians to better position themselves to petition the International Criminal Court, very possibly bogging down the court for the foreseeable future.
It is our strong belief that such unilateral action would have devastating consequences for the peace process and the Palestinians themselves. Accordingly, we urge you in the strongest terms not to support this effort.
We believe that the only way to achieve a two-state solution is through direct negotiations leading to a peace treaty fully accepted by both governments and by both peoples. A just and lasting peace cannot and must not be imposed on the parties. If the Palestinians pursue such a unilateral approach, it violates the letter and spirit of the Oslo Accords and will deal a significant blow to future negotiations. Given the expectations gap among the Palestinian public, such action could lead to widespread violence on the ground, jeopardizing the West Bank’s impressive economic and security gains over recent years. There is also a substantial risk of more broadly inflaming the region and increasing violence at a time of already great instability. Finally, the United States will reconsider its assistance program for the Palestinian Authority and other aspects of U.S.-Palestinian relations if they choose to pursue such a unilateral effort.
We are confident that your government shares the United States’ commitment to a comprehensive resolution of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That outcome can only be achieved through direct negotiations. A vote on a unilateral UN resolution will likely set prospects for peace back years.
Our bilateral relationship is based on certain fundamental values. We urge you to vote those values, and to stand with the United States in not supporting unilateral action at the UN that would impede the peace we all seek.
Thank you for your consideration of our views.
Steny H. Hoyer, Democratic Whip
Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader
Howard Berman, Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Nita Lowey, Ranking Member on the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee
Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
Eleanor Holmes Norton
C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Debbie Wasserman Schultz