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Democrats Approve Draft Platform Affirming Staunch Support for Israel

Democrats approved a draft platform that affirms their party’s support for Israel on Saturday, rejecting an amendment that would have included language critical of the Jewish state, The Times of Israel reported.

A third of those on the platform’s drafting committee were appointed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D – Vt.), who has tacitly acknowledged his loss in the presidential primaries but said he will not end his campaign until the Democratic convention. Among Sanders’ appointees was Arab American Institute President James Zogby, who spearheaded the charge to push the party’s platform to align more closely with Sanders’ views on Israel. The failed amendment, which Zogby said Sanders helped draft, would have called for “an end to occupation and illegal settlements,” as well as international efforts to rebuild the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

It also would have scrapped a description of Jerusalem as “an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths” and removed criticism of the United Nations and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, which Zogby supports, the Jewish Journal reported. (Leaders of the BDS campaign, including co-founder Omar Barghouti, have repeatedly affirmed that BDS aims to eliminate Israel.)

The draft instead aligns with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s positions, and calls for a “two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict” that ensures Israel’s security “and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top foreign policy advisor, told JTA via email earlier this week that “Hillary Clinton’s steadfast support for Israel, and the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, are well known. As we have said previously, she remains confident that the party platform will reflect her views.”

A PEW Research poll published in May found that “by a wide margin (47% to 27%), Clinton supporters say they sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians in their dispute.”

A Gallup poll released in late February found that bipartisan American support for Israel remains at historically high levels, with 62% of Americans sympathetic towards Israel while only 15% favor the Palestinians.

[Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr ]