WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and eight of his fellow Democrats in the committee issued a statement welcoming the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting that was held earlier this week between Israeli and Palestinian officials, and called for de-escalation ahead of Ramadan and Passover.
Among the senators who joined the call were Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey).
“We welcome the meeting that was held in Sharm el-Sheikh and the inaugural meeting in Aqaba, on February 26, between senior officials of the Palestinian Authority and Israel, supported by officials from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the United States.”Statement by Senate Democrats
“We welcome the meeting that was held in Sharm el-Sheikh and the inaugural meeting in Aqaba, on February 26, between senior officials of the Palestinian Authority and Israel, supported by officials from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the United States,” they wrote. “We commend the efforts by Jordan and Egypt to set the conditions for this process and for hosting these meetings.”
These meetings, they added, “reflect existing agreements between the PA and the government of Israel to work toward a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, and commitments to restore calm and de-escalate recent tensions.
Democrats say de-escalation is ‘crucial’ ahead of Passover and Ramadan
“This includes implementation of the commitment to end unilateral, escalatory measures for the next 3-6 months,” the statement reads. “We also welcome the agreement to develop a mechanism to curb and counter violence, incitement, and inflammatory statements and actions, and the commitment to meet again in this format in April.”
They emphasized that, “as we enter the holy month of Ramadan and prepare to celebrate both Passover and Easter, such de-escalation is crucial,” adding that “Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live with security and in safety, enjoying equal measures of freedom, prosperity and dignity. We remain committed to supporting a negotiated two-state solution.”
Israel reaffirmed its brief suspension of new West Bank settlement announcements at the quintet meeting on Sunday.
“The Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority reaffirmed their joint readiness and commitment to immediate work to end unilateral measure for a period of three to six months,” the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a communiqué summarizing the conclusions of the meeting.
“This includes an Israeli commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for four months and to stop authorization of any outposts for six months,” the communique said.
Israel had already pledged to take this step at the February quintet meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, and reaffirmed it on Sunday.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.