House to vote on resolution saying Israel isn’t a ‘racist or apartheid state’

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(WASHINGTON) — The controversy over Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s comments on Israel will continue Tuesday when the House votes on a Republican-led resolution to reaffirm the U.S. ally is not a racist state and condemn antisemitism — an effort designed to drive a wedge between Democrats as the party contends with differing stances within its ranks toward Israel.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, says “the State of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state, Congress rejects all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia, and the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.” The measure is expected to pass with strong bipartisan support.

The vote is essentially a rebuke of Jayapal, who has walked back her comments calling Israel a “racist state” and apologized to those she hurt with the remarks made at a political conference over the weekend. Seeking to clarify her remarks, Jayapal said she supported the two-state solution but is opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime and its policies.

Top Democrats issued a statement over the weekend countering Jayapal’s remarks in which they declared, “Israel is not a racist state.”

“Our commitment to a safe and secure Israel as an invaluable partner, ally and beacon of democracy in the Middle East is ironclad,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Reps. Katherine Clark, Pete Aguilar and Ted Lieu said in a statement.

Aguilar further touted the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel during a press conference on Tuesday, where he was asked whether the Israel resolution will expose division within the party.

“No, there’s unity in the Democratic caucus,” Aguilar responded. “I think you’ll see that with strong attendance from our colleagues on the House floor to see the president of Israel address us.”

Aguilar said he plans to vote for the resolution and expects “a large number of Democrats to vote for it.”

Republicans are also expected to vote in favor of the resolution, with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-Calif., applauding the resolution.

“I think you have seen some growing antisemitism over the years and including coming from some members of Congress. And I think it’s always important that we reiterate our strong support with our great ally Israel, and stand up to antisemitism wherever we see it,” Scalise said.

Scalise later said he expected a “strong vote” for Pfluger’s resolution.

Presented with the contrast between his condemnation of antisemitism with House Republicans’ plans for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to testify before a House subcommittee — despite Kennedy recently being accused of antisemitism for his false claim that COVID-19 was “targeted to” certain ethnicities while Chinese people and Jewish people of European descent were more immune — Scalise criticized Kennedy’s remarks.

“I don’t agree with that,” Scalise said when asked about Kennedy’s recent comments. “But we’re bringing legislation so that every member of Congress can be on record about whether or not they stand up against antisemitism.”

As the House takes up the measure, Israeli President Isaac Herzog will arrive in Washington, D.C., and sit down with President Joe Biden at the White House. The two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday afternoon. Herzog will deliver remarks to Congress on Wednesday to mark the 75th anniversary of Israel’s statehood.

Some progressive Democrats, including Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have said they will not attend.

ABC News’ Arthur Jones contributed to this report.

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