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The House votes Netanyahu again, but is AIPAC losing its mojo?

PM Binyamin Netanyahu had some rough days in the Knesset lately, but one shouldn’t worry too much when you have at hand the Likud’s friendliest parliament – the US Congress. Immediately after Israel declined the American offer and ended the peace talks before they began, the House of Representatives passed a resolution stating the US should block Palestinian attempts to declare their independence unilaterally.

Among other things, H Res. 1765 declares that:

The House of Representatives–


calls upon the Administration to–

(A) lead a diplomatic effort to persuade other nations to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and to oppose recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations, within the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians; and

(B) affirm that the United States would deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties.

This decision made big headlines in Israel, and it’s seen as further proof that Jerusalem can do whatever it wants as long as it has AIPAC on its side. Last Week I saw Prof. Yoram Etinger, Ynet’s columnist on US politics, explaining on Israel’s Channel 1 that the balance of power in Washington has shifted form the White House to the Hill, and therefore Israel should not worry from any Palestinian move, or from Obama.

But take a look at this post by the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, claiming that if anything, this resolution exposed AIPAC in its weaknesses:

…[Rep. Howard] Berman [which led the legislative effort] called for a voice vote rather than a recorded vote. Fewer than ten Representatives then on the floor voted by “unanimous consent” to adopt the resolution, giving the illusion that the entire House gave its imprimatur to it.

It is common for only a few Representatives to be on the floor when a unanimous consent vote is taken; however, it is highly unusual for the Israel lobby not to ask for a recorded vote so that its supporters can be rewarded and opponents can be punished. In the case of H.Res.1765, Berman clearly feared that a recorded vote would have led to an embarrassing outcome.


Growing unease on Capitol Hill over these “one-sided resolutions” is attributable to several factors: Israel’s deliberate humiliation of President Obama on settlements; recognition that Israeli and U.S. interests are not one and the same; and a hard-to-define yet palpable Israel fatigue.”

Wishful thinking?

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    1. Y.

      This does look like wishful thinking to me. I think a case of אס”ק is much more likely, and that’s assuming AIPAC wanted a roll call (a idea based on convenient speculation by the linked blog). Anyhow, I don’t follow 435 house members, but the calculus looks very simple to me:

      The incoming House would be controlled by the Republican party, whose base is pro-Israel and is not too enamored of Obama. Ergo, Nethanyahu can rely on them lobbying the administration even if Obama decides on policy more hostile to Israel. How much (if at all) this would affect Obama’s policy, I cannot tell.

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