WASHINGTON — Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., hand-delivered a letter to President Joe Biden Thursday urging him to take action to help improve relations between the Israeli government and Palestinians in response to a recent surge in violence in the region.
“I am gravely concerned that Mr. Netanyahu’s regime dismisses the long-term security threat his government’s policy of de facto annexation poses to Israel,” the freshman senator wrote. “If this policy continues, our advocacy for the two-state solution is meaningless. Despite increasing obstacles, the two-state solution must be reinvigorated.”
Welch, who recently returned from a congressional visit to Israel, delivered the letter to Biden on Thursday afternoon as the president stopped by Capitol Hill to speak at Senate Democrats’ weekly lunch.
Welch was part of a congressional delegation led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem last week. According to the Vermont senator, Schumer “reinforced the commitment we all have to our relationship with Israel, its security, and to its identity as a Jewish and democratic state” but also “reiterated our support for the long-standing policy of the United States government to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
In his letter to Biden, Welch also wrote: “It is time to acknowledge what is painfully apparent: as far as the Netanyahu government is concerned, the two-state solution is dead.”
He noted the “escalation of conflict in the West Bank” the day after his delegation departed Israel, “resulting in the deaths of Israelis and a Palestinian, and attacks on Palestinian homes.”
On Sunday, dozens of Israeli settlers engaged in an hourslong rampage through a Palestinian town, burning homes and killing a Palestinian man, after a Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israeli settlers.
Welch closed his letter with a call to the Biden administration to take a more proactive role in the region.
“We have a choice: stand by passively as a withered two-state approach recedes into oblivion or do our best to reenergize it with more assertive efforts to persuade the Netanyahu government to stop further expansion of settlements in the West Bank, to halt all de facto annexations, and to reaffirm Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution,” he wrote.
“Any hope for peace and prosperity in the region depends on the United States making the right choice, right now,” Welch concluded.