In light of the March 21 opinion submission taking issue with my position on the continuing Israeli-Palestine conflict (“Sen. King complicit in Israel’s Big Lie,” Bob Schaible), I’d like to outline my views on the need to facilitate good faith negotiations as conditions allow. This is a matter that I’ve evaluated from all vantage points, including with those engaged on this issue here in Maine and traveling to the region and meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, as well as both Palestinian and Israeli citizens.

President Biden is correct to restore U.S diplomatic missions and aid to the Palestinian Authority, while maintaining important U.S. security commitments to Israel.  I am a strong supporter of Israel and our important strategic relationship, but firmly oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which complicate the establishment of a geographically coherent Palestinian State.

On the other hand, a key obstacle to successful negotiations is the lack of a strong governmental entity that represents all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; resolution of any dispute is almost impossible without two parties able to speak for their constituents and deliver on their commitments.

As the new administration navigates this complicated issue, I will continue to support the Oslo process and advocate for a negotiated two-state agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority based on the 1967 borders with land swaps, support U.S. security assistance to Israel, support human rights and economic opportunity for the Palestinians, oppose Israeli settlement expansion, and similarly oppose economic boycotts against Israel.

Maine Sen. George Mitchell once said, “The pessimism which exists now in the Middle East existed in Northern Ireland, but we stayed at it.” And that is what the United States must do: stay at it.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, Brunswick

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