J Street
J Street

Friend --

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made an important speech to the UN Security Council.

"If the current Israeli and US governments were serious about securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, then they would take the Palestinian offer seriously -- and put it to the test."

Abbas laid out explicit support for the two-state solution and put forward a serious proposal for how to get there. And he raised the obvious question: Why are President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu unwilling to do the same?

Right now, that’s the question that all pro-Israel Americans need to be asking.

For a long time, some pro-Israel advocates have argued that the only obstacle to peace is Palestinian rejectionism -- there’s simply “no Palestinian partner,” they say.

Even now, apologists for Trump and Netanyahu prefer to ignore the dangerous path that these leaders are charting and repeat these same tired talking points.

So it’s stunning when you realize that, today, of the three, the Palestinians are the only party willing to publicly endorse the goal of two states for two peoples.

Let’s be clear: We have no illusions that Mahmoud Abbas is the ideal partner. His rhetoric is at times incendiary, and his frequent refusal to acknowledge the Jewish people’s historic connection to Israel or Jerusalem is troubling. His hold on leadership is tenuous and his critics are legion.

Yet we know there will never be a Zionist sitting on the Palestinian side of the negotiating table -- and there doesn’t need to be to reach a lasting agreement that will make Israel safer.

As Yitzhak Rabin said, “You don’t make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies.”

The standard for judging the Palestinian leadership today isn’t whether they love Israel, but whether the positions they laid out at Security Council -- two states for two peoples based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps, a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, a commitment to security, an agreed-upon resolution to refugee claims, etc. -- can and should form the basis for ending the conflict.

If the current Israeli and US governments were serious about securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, then they would take the Palestinian offer seriously -- and put it to the test.

They would come to the table with the explicit goal of reaching a two-state solution, and present their own serious plans for resolving final status issues.

It’s clear why they don’t.

Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump are beholden to the settlement movement and a powerful minority of far-right ideologues who support a one-state future. For these forces, annexation of the West Bank is a dream -- and the two-state solution is their worst nightmare.

Their dangerous views will be on full display next month, when Netanyahu will address the AIPAC conference and hold a meeting with Trump.

They’ll heap blame on the Palestinians, ignore Abbas’ proposal, and neither endorse a two-state solution nor present a viable alternative to it. Against the wishes and interests of the majority of Israelis and pro-Israel Americans, they’ll do whatever they can to prevent progress towards a viable peace.

We can’t let them get away with it.

To move forward toward a better future, we need to mobilize our community to expose their agenda and confront their actions.

We need to work in 2018 and beyond to elect leaders committed to genuine diplomacy and the two-state solution -- and challenge the extremists desperately trying to block them.

We need to insist on leaders who prove they are truly partners for peace.

As a reminder, the J Street National Conference is right around the corner. These gatherings of thousands are so important to have critical conversations and to raise our voices -- particularly on Capitol Hill -- to remind our elected officials that they are supported, in large numbers, to lead on a pro-peace, pro-diplomacy agenda. You can register here.

I hope to see you in April. Thanks for all that you do,

Jeremy Ben-Ami
President, J Street

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J Street is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans who want Israel to be secure, democratic and the national home of the Jewish people. Working in American politics and the Jewish community, we advocate policies that advance shared US and Israeli interests as well as Jewish and democratic values, leading to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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