Though we welcome the government of Israel’s expressed willingness to restrain settlement growth, we echo the Secretary’s statement today in Morocco that offers made to date fall far short of the Obama administration’s position and preference. Any settlement expansion is a threat to Israel’s future as a democratic home for the Jewish people and undermines American national interests.
J Street reiterates its strong support for President Barack Obama’s commitment to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution and comprehensive regional peace during his first term in office – and for his belief that all parties have obligations to fulfill if we are to reach a resolution.
As the President prepares for his first major address to the American Jewish community next week, we flag for him the words of his own National Security Advisor, Jim Jones, who said just last week that if he could urge the President to solve one problem in the world, it would be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
With that sense of urgency and focus, we ask the President to get the parties and the diplomats to look beyond simply getting to a table to talk. The administration has made it clear that – in their words – “there has been enough talking about talking.”
We believe it is a serious mistake for friends of Israel and those who seek an end to conflict to claim victory in the PR battle over who deserves more or less of the blame or credit for the current impasse in negotiations. We share the concern expressed by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union of Reform Judaism that “time is not the ally of peace in this situation.. [and that we will] wake up shortly to confront an emerging consensus – not only from our enemies but from our friends – that a two-state solution must give way to a one-state solution.”
We urge the President to clearly state next week – and to reiterate it to an Israeli audience directly and as soon as possible – that failure to end this conflict immediately and diplomatically is an existential threat to a Jewish, democratic Israel.
The time has come for the President and Secretary of State Clinton to move beyond discussing the preconditions for talks, or even the necessity of resuming talks, and to instead provide the active leadership so sorely needed to actually resolve the key issues between the parties.
Harry Siegman writes in the New York Times that Israelis may need some tough love if the occupation is to ever end:
Israelis do not oppose President Obama’s peace efforts because they dislike him; they dislike him because of his peace efforts. He will regain their affection only when he abandons these efforts.
That is how Israel’s government and people respond to any outside pressure for a peace agreement that demands Israel’s conformity to international law and to U.N. resolutions that call for a return to the 1967 pre-conflict borders and reject unilateral changes in that border.
Like Israel’s government, Israel’s public never tires of proclaiming to pollsters its aspiration for peace and its support of a two-state solution. What the polls do not report is that this support depends on Israel defining the terms of that peace, its territorial dimensions, and the constraints to be placed on the sovereignty of a Palestinian state.