J Street and the UN

September 21st, 2011

WASHINGTON — J Street announced that it will support the United States’ intention to veto of the Palestinian application for United Nations’ membership, should the matter come to a vote in the UN Security Council this autumn.

In a position paper and in an open letter to the American Jewish community released today, J Street laid out its case for why it is critical that a Palestinian state be established in the context of a two-state agreement, as opposed to by UN declaration.

In the position paper, J Street calls for an end to business-as-usual diplomacy, arguing that an immediate, assertive US-led diplomatic effort to restart focused and substantive negotiations could still avert a UN vote. Regardless of the outcome of a UN vote, the group contends, the conflict will still need to be resolved and a two-state solution will be no less necessary to secure Israel’s future as Jewish homeland and a democracy.

In its open letter to the American Jewish community, J Street, recognizing the Jewish community’s shared commitment to Israel’s long-term peace and security, urges American Jewish institutions to direct their energies towards immediately pressing for tangible and positive movement towards a two-state solution. Among other things, the letter calls on the community not to rest on old paradigms, such as seeing direct negotiations as the only possible solution or the Palestinians as solely to blame for the present diplomatic stalemate, but instead to consider new approaches to resolving the conflict by the US and other international actors, including the United Nations.

Summarizing J Street’s overall position, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the organization’s president and founder, issued the following statement:

“J Street’s mission is to promote a two-state solution – to achieve two states for two peoples, with the national home of the Jewish people living beside the national home of the Palestinian people in peace and security. In our view, this is an urgent, existential necessity for Israel to assure its future as both a democracy and Jewish homeland.

In our view, a Palestinian application for full UN membership this September does not stand to appreciably advance that goal or improve conditions on the ground. We will therefore support the Obama administration’s intention to veto a Palestinian application for UN membership at the Security Council.

Even as we counsel against a Palestinian application for UN membership at this time, we recognize that the Palestinian approach to the UN is a legal and non-violent attempt to achieve self-determination. Accordingly, we will lobby against moves by the US Congress to punitively cut aid to the Palestinian Authority that will serve only to undercut the prospects for resolving the conflict and threaten Israel’s own security. Likewise, we will oppose retaliatory efforts by the US to pull back from UN commitments, which stand to undermine both American interests and the vital work of the UN globally.

Both before and after any possible UN vote J Street believes that US diplomatic courage and leadership will be vital to actually resolving this conflict . There is still time for a serious US-led effort to restart focused negotiations before the United Nations convenes in September. If not, then on the morning after any UN vote, the conflict will still need resolving and a two-state solution will be all the more necessary.

It’s clear after 20 years that business-as-usual diplomacy isn’t working, so we’re open to new approaches to jumpstart progress toward peace. J Street will press the US, together with its Quartet partners, to put forward substantive and balanced parameters for the resolution of the conflict and to push both parties harder to achieve it.

Our standard for judging any international effort will be whether it promotes peace, enhances security and improves conditions on the ground. This includes other actions at the UN – which we do not reject out-of-hand, despite our misgivings over the UN’s track record when it comes to Israel. Recognizing our community’s shared commitment to Israel’s long-term peace and security, J Street urges others in American Jewish institutions to join us in directing our energies towards immediately pressing for tangible and positive movement towards a two-state solution.”

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