J Street Commends President Obama's Middle East Speech

May 19th, 2011

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement in reaction to President Obama's speech on his approach to the changing Middle East:

J Street commends President Obama for his important speech today outlining his approach to the changing Middle East and stating that efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution are “more urgent than ever.” We are grateful that the President reiterated that America’s friendship with Israel is rooted in shared values and that the United States maintains an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.

We share, however, the President’s deep concern that the status quo today between Israel and the Palestinians is unsustainable, and that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.” He is correct in saying that Israel will only find security through granting the Palestinian people their freedom, and the Palestinian people will only achieve freedom if Israel finds security.

J Street wholeheartedly endorses the approach to resolving the conflict outlined today by the President, namely, to address borders and security first. This is an approach which J Street first advocated when negotiations stalled last year. He also clearly established that those borders must be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps – an essential component of the ad J Street ran this morning in The New York Times.

We hope the President will now put his words into action in the coming days as he meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu and that he will launch a credible new diplomatic initiative in advance of the looming September United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood.

We urge the President to publicly ask the leaders of both parties to join him in an intensive and immediate effort to achieve a two-state solution on the basis of the principles laid out in this speech. He has laid out the parameters of a workable two-state deal, and now the parties must decide if they are ready to work seriously to achieve that elusive goal.