Darrell Issa Talks With SDJJ About Israelby Brie Stimson June 9, 2017
At a contentious town hall in San Juan Capistrano last Saturday, Congressman Darrell Issa spoke in front of a crowd of about 500 people. The congressman answered constituents’ questions about everything from the president pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord to the Russia investigation to the GOP’s unpopular health care bill they wrote to replace Obamacare. Issa said everyone who is eligible for Medicaid now will still be eligible under the Republican bill but wants to have work requirements for people on Medicaid.
After the town hall, the congressman took a minute to answer some of the Jewish Journal’s questions about Israel.
He said he is for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “Congress has repeatedly emphasized that we need to move to the capital of Israel,” Issa told the Jewish Journal. “I support the recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and I’ll do what I can to continue to move that.” The last several presidents declined to do so, citing security reasons. Critics say that relocating the embassy to Jerusalem could hamper efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and although Trump made moving the embassy a campaign promise, he has postponed any relocation for now. “I don’t think there’s an ambiguity though,” Issa said. “The president said that he supports it. He’s trying to make it part of a process I just hope that process gets moving.”
Issa also said that he is unequivocally for a two-state solution because peace is not possible without one. “The problem with a one-state solution is that the demographics of it are untenable for a Jewish state,” he began. “And to be candid why do you want to force a solution that neither party wants? The Palestinians want a state. The Jewish people want a state that is a Jewish state. Finding a solution should have been done in 1948. It wasn’t. Finding a solution today is still a reasonable goal.”
He also said he does not support settlements built on lands that were supposed to go back to the Palestinians. “The fact is that settlements are not helpful when they’re on lands that are clearly in zones that are at least tentatively agreed on to be returned in a two-state solution to the Palestinians. I think both sides know deep down that it’s a problem. When it comes to finding lines for that the last time it was really looked at in a way that it should be was at Taba after the Camp David accords [in 2000] with Bill Clinton, and I think that’s one of the challenges we’ve got to get and this president’s called for it and Jared [Kushner’s] called for it. We’ve got to get people back to the table to draw lines, to make decisions so that we can deconflict the construction.”
Issa paraphrased Yikzhak Rabin, the former prime minster of Israel who was assassinated in 1995.
“There were three choices that Jews could not accept: they could not keep a people forever as captives and second-class citizens or uncitizens, that had happened to the Jewish people; they could not drive them out, that had happened to the Jewish people and they certainly could not exterminate them, that had happened to the Jewish people. So when you eliminate all the things that would be completely unacceptable to the people of Israel, you have to find a solution that isn’t those. And that solution is in fact the Palestinians having their own place wherever that is and the Jewish people having theirs and then becoming good neighbors in a way that could happen and it’s happened.”
He said getting Iran out of the equation is key for peace, and that’s one area he thinks President Trump is stronger than President Obama. He said in his travels through the Middle East he’s seen Egyptian and Israeli soldiers fighting against ISIS together in the Sinai and he’s seen the partnership and trust between Israel and Jordan. “It’s not a perfect peace, but it’s a darn good one compared to when you look back on it. We just have to have a third peace.”
Representing North County, Issa was reelected by a narrow margin last November. Issa was a strong supporter of Trump during the election, (although now he says he’s disappointed in the president pulling out of the Paris agreement and wishes Trump would not Tweet so much) and Democrats believe his seat is vulnerable in 2018.