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Graham won't back off Mideast 'two-state solution' despite Israeli pressure

Emma Dumain and Michael Wilner, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- If Israeli officials are hoping their ally, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, will back off plans to introduce a resolution expressing support for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they are going to be disappointed.

The South Carolina Republican told McClatchy in an interview this week that he has no plans to abandon his long-held position.

"I just can't envision how you can solve this with a one-state solution," said Graham, chairman of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that controls federal foreign aid, who has traveled extensively to the region over the years.

Graham and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., are expected to soon introduce a symbolic resolution expressing Congress's support for "two states for two peoples" -- a state of Israel and a state of Palestine.

Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, has been in touch with Graham and Van Hollen to request they exclude direct use of the term "two-state solution" in the measure, according to two sources familiar with the conversations. Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny reports of talks.

Graham and Van Hollen are working on the measure at a precarious moment in Middle East peace talks. At the end of the month, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is scheduled to appear at a summit in Bahrain to unveil a portion of his long-awaited plan to bring stability to the region.

 

Bridgett Frey, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen, said in a statement that "both senators ... are longtime supporters of a two-state solution and are working on the best way to advance that commitment in Congress."

Graham told McClatchy that he and Van Hollen were talking to "everybody" as they draft their resolution.

"We're gonna talk to the Israelis and the Jordanians and see where everything fits in," said Graham.

"I don't want to get in the way of Jared," Graham continued, "but I can't envision a one-state solution. It won't work. I mean, you'd have to disenfranchise the Palestinians, that won't work. If you let them vote, as one state, they'll overwhelm the Israelis. That won't work. So if you want to have a Democratic, secure Jewish state, I think you have to have two states to make that work."

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