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2016 Republican Party Platform offers praise for Israel - and see the one thing that's missing from the text

Posted July 27

After much speculation surrounding proposed pro-Israel language in draft copies of the 2016 Republican Party Platform, the final version of the document, indeed, expresses "unequivocal support" for the Jewish state and removes past calls for a two-state solution.

Branding Israel an "exceptional country," the language in the GOP platform, which was released last week, draws deep comparisons between the U.S. and its key Middle Eastern ally.

"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," the text reads. "Beyond our mutual strategic interests, Israel is likewise an exceptional country that shares our most essential values."

The document positions Israel as a bastion of liberty, saying that it is the only Middle Eastern nation in which freedom of religion and speech abound, adding — as previous draft versions had — that support for Israel is "an expression of Americanism" and a responsibility of U.S. lawmakers.

As expected, the document also declines to call for a two-state solution and pinpoints Jerusalem as "the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state."

The former is a key departure from the 2012 platform language, which read, in part, "we envision two democratic states — Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine."

The latter, however, comes amid ongoing debate over whether Israel or Palestine should control Jerusalem. It should be noted that the U.S. embassy is currently located in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem.

The platform goes on to offer up a commitment to Israel's security, pledging to make sure the nation's military always has an "edge" over her adversaries and rejecting the notion that the country is an "occupier."

Despite not calling for a two-state solution, the document urges peace in the region, stating this is a primary goal.

"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," the document continues. "We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and we call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so."

In other portions of the platform, ongoing turmoil in the Middle East is referenced, with the document calling the region "more dangerous now than at any time since the Second World War."

The U.S. deal with Iran also received some attention, with Republicans saying that it is viewed as "nonbinding on the next president," as it does not hold "treaty status."

But Iran is only one of the concerns referenced in the document, with the acts of the virulent Islamic State also being decried.

"Over the last four years we have seen the rise of a murderous fanaticism in the form of ISIS, the so-called Islamic State," the platform reads. "Its reach now extends far beyond the Middle East to virtually every continent. ISIS has brought ancient butchery into the 21st century."

Before the final draft of the platform was released, praise and criticism abounded. Some groups expressed concerns about the Israel language, with advocacy group J Street calling the language both “dangerous and irresponsible.”

A statement from the group read, in part: “J Street is extremely concerned at reports that the Republican Party platform committee is weighing language abandoning support for a two-state solution, deleting any reference to the Palestinians and denying the international legal reality that Israel is an occupying power in the West Bank.”

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com Twitter: billyhallowell Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell

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