WASHINGTON— J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following response to the Middle East Quartet’s statement today at the conclusion of its meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem:
“J Street welcomes the Quartet’s announcement today that the Israelis and Palestinians have each agreed to put forward comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months.
Were the parties to meet this commitment, it would be a positive step towards restarting a diplomatic process. We urge both Israel and the Palestinians to put forward meaningful proposals in a timely manner. We urge the Quartet to play an active role in leading this effort by adhering to the deadlines they have proposed and offering proposals at the appropriate time to bridge the gaps between the parties on the substance of an understanding on borders and security.
J Street supports a ‘borders and security first’ approach to efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because we believe that finalizing those arrangements could create positive momentum toward addressing other final status issues. With a border established, settlement construction will no longer pose an obstacle to further talks as both Israel and the Palestinians will be free to build within their borders and not beyond.
Further, the approach adopted now by the Quartet highlights that ‘direct talks’ are not and should not be the only means of promoting diplomatic progress. The goal isn’t getting the two sides to sit at the same table. It is getting them to agree to end the conflict – first by setting borders and security arrangements and later by addressing other final status issues. It is a tautology that only the parties themselves can agree to conclude the conflict, but the substance of numerous conflict-ending agreements throughout history—including the critical peace between Israel and Egypt— has been decided by means other than direct negotiations between the parties.
Those who care about Israel’s Jewish and democratic future do not have the luxury of continuing to fail in efforts to achieve a viable, two-state resolution to this conflict – and a focus simply on getting the parties to talk is destined to fail.
We also welcome the larger role being played by Special Envoy Blair on behalf of the international community. We urge the United States to actively support the Quartet in this new effort.”J Street’s latest thoughts on achieving diplomatic progress are contained in a revised policy paper available on its website today, http://jstreet.org/policy/issues/borders-and-security-strategy/