WASHINGTON —J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement in response to the speeches of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations today, as well as to the just released statement by the Middle East Quartet.
While J Street reacted to the events of the past few days at the United Nations with frustration and disappointment, we do hope that the steps outlined this afternoon by the Quartet provide a much-needed route out of stalemate and toward diplomatic progress.
The leaders now return home to a reality no better after the UN meeting than it was before. President Abbas and his people have no more freedom and independence, Israel has no more long-term security and perhaps even greater isolation, and the reputation of President Obama and the credibility of the United States have been tarnished.
As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed – the greatest shame of this moment is that the opportunity for achieving a two-state solution is slipping through our grasp.
The Quartet announcement this afternoon outlining a plan building on the ‘borders and security first’ approach is a welcome step in the right direction.
We recognize, of course, that more is needed right now than another statement and, likewise, that merely convening the parties for the sake of meeting will yield little or no progress.
The Quartet will only break the present impasse if the world’s leaders demonstrate the political will to mediate in a meaningful manner and to adhere to the deadlines they have proposed.
As for the American Jewish community, this is not the moment to celebrate that the United States ‘stood with Israel’ or that the Palestinians have not succeeded in gaining UN membership.
This is the moment to redirect our energy toward convincing American policymakers and politicians of the critical importance to Israel’s and America’s interests of changing the present course of the conflict before it is too late.
The future of Israel and the interests of the United States hang in the balance.