J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement:
J Street welcomes and urges Congressional approval for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's pledge today of $900 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinians. The proposal, including $600 million for the Palestinian Authority and $300 million for rebuilding civilian infrastructure and addressing urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza, is essential to alleviate a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and to improve the situation in the West Bank. U.S. leadership in the rebuilding effort in Gaza is critical to re-establishing America’s broken relationships in the Middle East, in the Muslim world and globally. Improving the lives of ordinary Gazans can strengthen any ceasefire and enhance the security of Israel, especially its southern communities. As the Secretary indicated, Gaza reconstruction is only a first step. There is also an urgency to ongoing international efforts to prevent another escalation in Gaza and southern Israel, which requires an end to the rockets and an opening of the closure on Gaza for reconstruction materials. Immediate action is needed as well to address the larger political issues in the region, including a renewed push to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In that light, today’s report that the Israeli government has plans to nearly double the number of settlers on the West Bank is extremely disturbing. We urge the Obama administration to make clear in no uncertain terms that Israeli settlement activity must stop immediately and that there will be serious consequences to pursuing any further expansion of settlements on the West Bank.