J Street opposes the Gaza-bound flotilla, expresses concern about possible violence

June 28th, 2011

J Street opposes the Gaza-bound flotilla. We strongly urge those organizing and participating in the flotilla to reconsider. We are deeply concerned that a new attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza could spark violence and result in further entrenchment by both sides, derailing efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at this critical time.

We remain deeply frustrated at the lack of progress toward a two-state solution. But frustration does not justify this new flotilla, which has the potential to escalate the conflict and needlessly put the lives of both Israeli soldiers and civilian activists at risk. It also distracts attention from the important diplomatic work being undertaken to restart talks to achieve a two-state solution, the only way to provide true security to Israel and independence to the Palestinian people.

Israel has legitimate security concerns about goods that enter Gaza. To meet those concerns, however, restrictions should be narrowly limited to keep out only items with a possible military purpose, and screening of imports should be limited to what is necessary for legitimate security purposes. We support Israel fully implementing its stated policy of easing the blockade to allow a greater variety and volume of civilian necessities to enter the territory.

We join the many voices around the world strongly urging those considering participation in a new flotilla to refrain from doing so and urging Israel to exercise caution in responding to this deliberate provocation. Should the flotilla sail, we urge all parties to take measures to avoid violence and pursue actions that demonstrate maximum restraint.