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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

The 2016 Party Platforms and the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship

In July, the Democratic and Republican parties held their quadrennial conventions to nominate their respective candidates for the 2016 presidential election. Delegates at each convention formally approved their party’s platform.   

In this era of significant policy differences between the parties, both Republicans and Democrats expressed their strong support for Israel while reflecting differences of approach on other elements of U.S. Mideast policy. 

Below are excerpts from each party’s platform touching on issues of vital importance to the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship.  The Republicans met in Cleveland July 18-21 and the Democrats in Philadelphia July 25-28. 

Republican Platform: Approved in Cleveland on July 18

Shared values:  “Like the United States of America, the modern state of Israel is a country born from the aspiration for freedom and stands out among the nations as a beacon of democracy and humanity. Beyond our mutual strategic interests, Israel is likewise an exceptional country that shares our most essential values. It is the only country in the Middle East where freedom of speech and freedom of religion are found. Therefore, support for Israel is an expression of Americanism…”

The right to self-defense and maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge: “We reaffirm America’s commitment to Israel’s security and will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative military edge over any and all adversaries. We support Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself against terror attacks upon its people and against alternative forms of warfare being waged upon it legally, economically, culturally, and otherwise.”

Jerusalem: “We recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and call for the American embassy to be moved there in fulfillment of U.S. law.”

Peace process: “The United States seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region. We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms…”

Iran’s malign behavior: “Because of it [the nuclear deal], the defiant and emboldened regime in Tehran continues to sponsor terrorism across the region, develop a nuclear weapon, test-fire ballistic missiles inscribed with ‘Death to Israel,’ and abuse the basic human rights of its citizens.”

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement: “We…specifically recognize that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy Israel. Therefore, we call for effective legislation to thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories, in a discriminatory manner.”

Hezbollah: “We must stand up for our friends, challenge our foes, and destroy ISIS. Hezbollah, controlling over 100,000 missiles in Lebanon, must be isolated and Lebanon’s independence restored.”

Democratic Platform: Approved in Philadelphia on July 25

Shared values: “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism."

The right to self-defense and maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge: “[W]e will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge…”

Jerusalem: “While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Peace process: “We will continue to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated directly by the parties that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

Iran’s malign behavior: “We support the nuclear agreement with Iran because, as it is vigorously enforced and implemented, it verifiably cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb without resorting to war…We will continue the work of this administration to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and will not hesitate to take military action if Iran races towards one."

"Democrats will also address the detrimental role Iran plays in the region and will robustly enforce and, if necessary, strengthen non-nuclear sanctions. Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It violates the human rights of its population, denies the Holocaust, vows to eliminate Israel, and has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East. Democrats will push back against Iran’s destabilizing activities including its support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, [and] counter Iran’s ballistic missile program…”

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement: “[We] will always…oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.”

Terrorism and incitement: “Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement.”

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