WASHINGTON -- Senator Dianne Feinstein of California introduced a bill Tuesday night that would have the Senate resolve itself to supporting Secretary of State John Kerry's push for a two-state solution.
The bill hit the Senate floor just hours after direct negotiations began in Washington between Israel and the Palestinians. The two parties agreed to negotiate in earnest over the next nine months— with the United States facilitating— addressing final status issues with the aim of establishing two independent states side by side.
Calling the two-state solution the only way to "ensure the State of Israel's survival as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people," the Senate resolution states that a peace agreement is a fundamental security interest of the United States.
"The Senate pledges its support for a sustained United States diplomatic initiative to help Israel and Palestine conclude an agreement to end their conflict," the resolution reads.
The draft resolution is cosponsored by Tim Kaine of Virginia, the new chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, as well as Senator Martin Heinrich.
“Resolving the longstanding conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis is in the fundamental interest of the United States,” said Feinstein in a statement. “Secretary Kerry’s efforts to get both sides to the negotiating table have paid off, but negotiators will need to make very difficult decisions over the next nine months to reach a lasting two-state agreement. This resolution affirms the Senate’s support for the diplomatic process, which I believe is the only way to reach an agreement that ensures Israel’s survival as a democratic state and fulfills the legitimate desire of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.”
Kerry is lauded for his "tireless efforts to urgently advance a negotiated two-state solution" in the draft language.
"Peace and a two-state solution in the Middle East will only come about by Israelis and Palestinians talking face-to-face," Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement on Monday. "I applaud Secretary Kerry’s success in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
The resolution had no public Republican support upon its release Tuesday evening.