Today, J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami welcomed the launch of indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians:
J Street welcomes the launch of Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks. While the start of talks is a step in the right direction, those committed to ending the conflict peacefully should remain focused not on maintaining a process but concluding it successfully. This will require moving quickly to address the final status issues at the core of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution. The role of the United States in the coming weeks is crucial. The Obama Administration will have to demonstrate that it is serious not simply about reaching a resolution quickly but that it is willing to exert the courageous leadership necessary to press both sides to take the hard decisions required to resolve the conflict. The talks should be used to establish the positions of the sides on the core issues, to narrow gaps, and then to put on the table concrete ideas for bridging those gaps, in a process that holds the parties to task and accountable for results. The outlines of a viable resolution are well-known and should serve as the basis for the parties' discussions: borders based on the 1967 lines with land swaps, Jewish areas in Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinian areas of Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, arrangements for the Old City that guarantee freedom of worship for all religions, and a reasonable resolution to the refugee issue, through compensation and resettlement in the new Palestinian state. We urge Israelis, Palestinians, and the Obama Administration to seize this opportunity with a seriousness of purpose that matches the urgency of the moment. The clock is winding down on the viability of a two-state solution, and the only way to preserve Israel's future as a Jewish, democratic home, prevent another round of violence and advance U.S. interests in the region is through successful American-led resolution of this conflict.