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Massachusetts Democrats table controversial resolution on Israeli settlements in West Bank

Massachusetts Democrats voted Saturday to table a provocative proposal for the state committee to declare opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank without mentioning Palestinian violence.

“I’m not real surprised at the result,” said Carol Coakley of Millis, an 18-year member of the Democratic State Committee who offered the resolution. “But when you see what you think is an injustice going on, it’s important to keep fighting.”

Called the Resolution on peace and security for Israelis And Palestinians, it would have put the state party on record “that Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank are obstacles to peace.” It had drawn blowback from top party leaders, including former state and national party chairman Steve Grossman, who said the resolution unfairly blamed Israel for a complex problem, and could damage the party.

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“I think the state committee made a wise decision,” Grossman, who is also the former state treasurer, said of Saturday’s vote. He was not at the meeting, which was held in Bourne. “Anything we do that is going to be divisive, that impedes our ability to be unified when confronting the harmful implications of the Trump administration’s policies, is something we should avoid.”

James Segel, a former state representative and aide to Barney Frank, had earlier offered alternative language for the resolution that he felt was more balanced. The resolution as written, he said, ignores the role that Palestinians and groups like Hamas play in the conflict.

“It’s clearly not a one-sided situation,” he said.

Last weekend, a party subcommittee voted to recommend that the full state committee table the resolution at this Saturday’s meeting. The subcommittee bundled that recommendation on the resolution about settlements with three other resolutions.

The subcommittee last week recommended the party approve a resolution calling for a transparent, independent investigation into Russian interference in the election and President Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin and another to hold Republicans accountable for silencing debate in Congress. It also recommended the party table the settlements resolution as well as a resolution to promote and protect voter rights.

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On Saturday, Coakley said she made a motion to separate her resolution from the others so it could be considered and voted on separately. But Coakley said that motion failed with a vote of 79 to 49, though she was pleased to have the chance to discuss it. The state committee then voted to accept the subcommittee’s recommendation on all four resolutions.

“This is not an anti-Israel resolution,” said Coakley. “It is anti-[one] policy of Israel. And some things are divisive no matter what you do, but they have to be dealt with at some point.”

Coakley said she may bring her tabled resolution before the Public Policy subcommittee in the future.


Joshua Miller of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.