In what is both a powerful display of political support for the Netanyahu government and a potentially game-changing maneuver, Republican congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois has introduced a bill into the U.S. House affirming Israel's right to annex the West Bank should it choose to do so.
Haaretz reports that the bill has 30 co-sponsors and was introduced because, as Walsh puts it “We’ve got what I consider to be a potential slap in the face coming up with the vote in the UN, which is absolutely outrageous."
It’s clear that the United States needs to make a very strong statement. I would argue that the president should make this statement, but he’s not capable of making it. So, the House needs to make this statement, if the [Palestinian Authority] continues down this road of trying to get recognition of statehood, the U.S. will not stand for it. And we will respect Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria.
The bill may or may not pass, but has a good chance given Republican dominance in the House and Speaker John Boehner's outspoken support for Israel. It will also be seen as a partisan rebuke of President Barack Obama during the runup to an election year.
Boehner himself delivered a harsh criticism of Obama's conduct toward Israel on Sunday, saying that the U.S, must be "not just as a broker or observerm" in regard to Israel, but "a strong partner and reliable ally.”
Israel is becoming a partisan issue in America for the first time in recent memory, with Republicans enthusiastically supporting the current rightwing government and Democrats towing a much more cautious and conciliatory line.
President Obama in particular has drawn a great deal of criticism in this regard, causing some prominent Democrats such as former New York mayor Ed Koch to attack the president publi