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Resolution in Support of Israel Advances in North Dakota Legislature

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Legislature will consider a resolution affirming its support for Israel after a House-Senate joint policy committee shot down two amendments but backed the resolution Monday, Oct. 23, during the first day of its special session.

The resolution proposed by state Sen. Bob Paulson, R-Minot, asserts the state’s support for Israel to act “decisively and unilaterally” in its war with Palestinian militant organization Hamas. The group staged an attack of around 1,000 ground troops, alongside thousands of missiles, against Israel on Oct. 7.

Israel has launched an aggressive counteroffensive of thousands of missiles aimed at the Gaza Strip, while also contemplating a ground assault which the Biden administration has asked be delayed while negotiations continue for the release of hostages. Palestinian health officials estimate more than 5,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli officials have said the Israeli death toll exceeds 1,400, with most of the victims killed in the original Hamas attack.

The war is the latest installment in a decadeslong conflict between Israel and Palestine in the wake of the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence and Arab-Israeli War that year, which caused many Palestinians to be expelled from their homes. Both parties dispute the other party’s right to land in the region, and Israel has expanded its territory in the decades since.

Israel and Hamas have been at odds for almost two decades, after Israel and Egypt enforced an ongoing land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip in the wake of Hamas’ seizure of power in Palestine in 2007.

The proposed resolution before the Legislature also calls on state law enforcement to “remain vigilant” in protecting Israeli Americans and Jewish Americans amid what the FBI says is a rise in reports of antisemitic hate crimes around the country.

The wording of the resolution has come under some scrutiny in recent days, with Democratic lawmakers raising concerns that it doesn’t address the deaths of Palestinian citizens or call for North Dakota law enforcement to emphasize the protecting of Palestinian Americans. The FBI says there also has been a rise in reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S.

State Rep. Joshua Boschee, D-Fargo, indicated in a Friday interim Legislative Management committee meeting preceding the special session that he hoped to see multiple edits to the resolution that would refer to Palestinians and Palestinian Americans.

During the joint meeting Monday, State Senate Minority Leader Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo, suggested an amendment that would call on law enforcement to protect Palestinian Americans. State Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo, also proposed an amendment that would encourage Israel to abide by the “laws of war.” Both amendments were rejected by the joint committee.

The discussion comes just over a week after a 6-year-old Palestinian American was stabbed 26 times by his landlord, allegedly because he was Muslim, in a Chicago suburb.

“In our world today, there are a lot of groups who have victims that deserve support,” Paulson said as he introduced the resolution Monday and called on his colleagues to let it stand as written. “Any legislator had the freedom and the opportunity to submit a resolution in support of those folks. This resolution specifically relates to Israel.”

When pressed on whether he thought law enforcement had an equal responsibility to remain vigilant about anti-Muslim hate crimes, Paulson said officers have “a duty to protect all Americans.”

Joseph Sabag, executive director of the Israeli American Coalition for Action, encouraged legislators to back the resolution, which was based in part on a similar resolution passed in Texas. Sabag said support for Israel, a longtime American ally, is “an expression of our American patriotism” and aligns with “American interests.”

“Attacks upon Israel in many ways can also be understood as attacks upon the American way of life,” Sabag said.

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II, according to congressional research. America provides about $3 billion in annual military aid to the Israeli government, and President Joe Biden has requested from Congress an additional $14 billion in weapons aid to Israel, as well as $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.

Gov. Doug Burgum reaffirmed his support of Israel in his State of the State speech Monday kicking off the special session, which was called primarily to deal with a budget bill voided by the North Dakota Supreme Court. He announced that he has decreed Oct. 23-28 as a statewide week of prayer in support of Israel.

“While doing so, we pray for all innocent citizens impacted by the terrorist attacks, including Americans, Israeli citizens and all others,” Burgum said. “We will continue to stand firmly beside our allies and resolutely oppose the evil forces that are bent on committing atrocities against them and against Americans.”

The resolution will now be considered by the House and Senate. It wasn’t immediately clear when the votes will happen.

Source : INFORUM