Democratic control of US Congress has Israel worried over future of Washington’s Mideast policy, newspaper says
The Democratic Party’s capture of the U.S. House of Representatives has raised concern in Israel over the potential impact on the U.S. position on Israel and the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Israeli concerns come in light of the sometimes-rocky relationship between the previous Democratic U.S. administration of Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Former Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren, who currently serves as deputy minister in Netanyahu’s office, told Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that the Democratic Party’s control of the U.S. Congress could hasten U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of his backchannel Mideast peace plan dubbed the “Deal of the Century”.
According to Oren, the Democrats’ new congressional majority will push Trump to focus more on foreign affairs, including his controversial peace plan.
He added that Israel now had to focus on restoring the confidence of American Democrats, along with liberal Jews in the U.S., which was shaken during Obama’s presidency.
Yedioth Ahronoth quoted other Israeli officials as saying that support for Israel would not be affected in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans enjoy a solid majority.
However, the Israeli officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the situation was more complex in congress, which is now dominated by Democrats.
“Israel is also concerned about the joining of new representatives, some of whom are Muslims who are well-known for their positions against Israel,” one official was quoted as saying.
The newspaper also quoted Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Dayan, as saying that he had recently met with most of the elected members of Congress from the states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in order to build working relations with them.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the most prominent Zionist lobby in Washington, recently organized meetings with all those who ran in the recent congressional race.
The newspaper quoted Democratic Party officials as saying that many of the party’s elected representatives are supporters of Israel, although the Republican Party has reportedly warned Israel that the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly anti-Israel.
According to polls conducted among young Americans, they are not inclined to favor Israel, but rather perceive Israel as the aggressor in its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
Estimations in the U.S show that half of young voters participate in the electoral process, and that the number of eligible voters will rise by 22 million in presidential and congressional polls slated for 2020.
According to these estimates, the newspaper says, Netanyahu must prepare to lose his Republican friends in the White House in two years’ time — especially as Democratic candidates do not rely on Jewish support for their campaigns.
Recent polls show that 79 percent of American Jews voted for the Democratic Party and that Israel does not influence their position, which is based mainly on domestic social issues.
The Jewish lobby group J Street is AIPAC’s main competitor.
J Street accomplished a major achievement in the recent elections with the victory of 120 congressional candidates who received its support. That means that the lobby group has become the supporter of more than half of the Democratic members of the Congress and Senate.
J Street supports a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian issue and adopts positions opposed to the Israeli right wing.
Ties between the Democratic Party and Israel were strained over the signing of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the Obama administration.
Relations were also adversely affected by Obama’s decision to abstain from voting — rather than using its veto right — on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy.