Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of hearing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address a joint session of Congress. The prime minister's inspiring words remind us all that our alliance with Israel is not based only on common interests such as fighting terrorism, but on the shared values that characterize our societies.
As Arab citizens throughout the Middle East take to the streets fighting despots and demanding their fundamental human rights, Israel offers shining proof that true democracy can flourish in any part of the world. Having just returned from Israel, I can affirm the prime minister's characterization of the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
Despite all the progress that has been made toward ensuring Israel's continued security, challenges still exist.
Rejectionist elements within the Palestinian leadership still refuse to sit and negotiate in good faith even as Israel repeatedly reiterates its commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security. These elements spurn Israeli overtures and seek to establish a Palestinian state unilaterally through a vote by the U.N. General Assembly.
Although short-term security may be achievable unilaterally, peace is not; Palestinian rejectionism — whether by Hamas or Fatah — must be abandoned.
I have made very clear my belief that U.S. taxpayer money should under no circumstance go to a Palestinian government whose members do not all abide by the three Quartet Principles: recognizing the state of Israel's right to exist, renouncing terrorism and abiding by previous agreements.
And just as the U.S. should not support a Palestinian government whose very composition is anathema to peace, so, too, should it not support an institution that offers an easy alternative to genuine peace through negotiations.
It is for this reason that I recently introduced a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to cut all funding to the U.N. General Assembly should it vote to recognize a Palestinian state in direct defiance of the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. Charter.
True Israeli-Palestinian peace will be made between two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, and not the 191 other members of the General Assembly. The road to Palestinian statehood does not start in New York, and it is not the place of the U.S., the U.N. nor any other country or institution to short-circuit negotiations between the two parties.
There should be no illusions, however. The proposed action by the General Assembly is not an altruistic measure by its member-states in the interests of genuine peace. Year after year, the General Assembly passes resolutions that seek to delegitimize the state of Israel — and the proposed declaration of Palestinian statehood is no exception.
Our government, unlike that of many of the countries who make up the General Assembly, represents the will of the people it governs. Accordingly, American taxpayer money as the expression of the will of the American people should not support an institution that undermines our security, our interests and those of our allies, including Israel.
It is ridiculous that we should pay for the very weapons used against our friends and allies. Israel, like the United States, welcomes those who would make peace even as it fights those who would make war. Time and again, Israel has demonstrated its commitment to a Palestinian state living as its neighbor in peace and security. But there are no shortcuts on the path to this outcome, and there is no getting around the hard concessions that will have to be made.
The U.S. must now stand with Israel against those who would use the U.N. to obstruct rather than advance the cause of peace.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.