Pro-Israel Congressional Caucus Launches to Reshape Dialogue on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Florida U.S. congressman Ron DeSantis speaks during a pre-legislative news conference, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
AP/Steve Cannon

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday morning, Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) helped launch the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC), which was spearheaded by the Middle East Forum, with the goal of introducing of reshaping of the U.S. discourse surrounding Israel-Palestinian relations and the peace process.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Israel on May 22 – his first visit to the Jewish State as commander-in-chief. DeSantis suggested it is likely that Trump will officially announce the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during that trip.

“That is going to be the time where people in Israel are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Israel.” DeSantis said, “I don’t think that is an accident. I traveled to Israel in March to look at sites where we could relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; sites we have interest in.”

He added, Trump “promised he was going to do it. And this is a guy who is very interested in keeping his promises. So we are assuming that that is going to happen. What better time would there be to announce the relocation of the embassy than when you’re over there, as President, celebrating alongside our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary. And so, I think the announcement of that trip is a signal that it is more likely to happen than not.”

Daniel Pipes, who founded the Middle East Forum in 1990, explained that Israelis must embrace and approach victory. He said that Israeli victory will ultimately liberate Palestinians because it will help them come to terms with the fact that they must live alongside Israelis.

“When the Jews of Hebron have no more worries about their security than the Arabs of Nazareth, then we know the war is done,” Pipes said. “When the war is over, then negotiations can begin. Until then, there should be no negotiations.”

“The result will be beneficial for both Israel (which will no longer face a rejectionist enemy) and the Palestinians (who can start to build their own polity, economy, society, and culture),” the MEF wrote in a press release ahead of the event.

Pipes explained his inspiration to launch the Israel Victory Project in an interview with Breitbart News:

In about 1999, I saw that the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians were counterproductive and began to create an alternative. At first, I called it a policy of toughness, a policy of deterrence, and it took about five or six years before I came up with the idea of victory. And I wrote a major piece, bringing it all together in 2009, but no one paid attention to it. Timing is important.

And then, about half a year ago, noting that Trump had won, it looked like there was an openness to new ideas and noting that Netanyahu had been reading a book about victory, and noting that the Sunni Arab states are more concerned with Iran than Israel, I thought, ‘maybe the time has come now.’ So I published a big article in January 2017 which was really the launch for this. And Gregg Roman, the director of the Middle East Forum, has been the one to operationalize it; take an idea and turn it into a campaign. And that’s what today’s launch of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus is about.

We’re going to have a number of events. We are going to have more and more members of Congress. I see this as the first half of getting the U.S. government and perhaps other governments to say, ‘Israel, do what you need to do to win.’ The second half will be getting the Israelis to take advantage of that freedom of action to actually win. Getting the groundwork in place so the Israelis say, ‘Yes, let’s take the steps that are necessary.’

Gregg Roman, MEF’s director, also announced the upcoming launch of a sister caucus in Israel’s Knesset on July 9 and 10 during Thursday’s hearing. Roman said the project will premiere in Jerusalem at the Menachem Begin Center on July 9 and then in the Knesset the next day.

During the hearing, DeSantis pointed to the “unassailable fact that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state. She’s here to stay and the sooner that all parties in the Middle East accept this, the sooner the region will see peace.” He added, “Israel is not the problem in the Middle East. Israel is the solution in the Middle East. From a dedication to democratic values to an economy built on innovation, Israel represents a diamond in the rough that is, unfortunately, a very troubled region in the world; the modern Middle East.”

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