Today, Hadar Susskind, J Street's Vice President for Policy and Strategy, released the following statement upon the announcement of direct talks between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority:
J Street welcomes today's announcement of direct talks between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with the United States closely shepherding the process. We applaud President Obama’s leadership and the work of Secretary Clinton and Senator Mitchell in bringing the parties to the table. But bringing the parties together is only the starting line on a difficult road that will demand real political leadership and courage from the parties and from the United States and the international community. President Obama has said before that talks and process are not the goal - the goal is two states living side-by-side in peace and security, with defined borders and an end to the conflict. We urge President Obama and his team to continue to actively lead the way toward that destination. J Street is pleased by the announcement of a one year timeline for talks and by the assurances given by U.S. officials that the United States will be actively engaged in the process, helping the parties close gaps and keep moving forward. The United States and the broader international community - including the Quartet and the Arab League - will have to help the parties to overcome the many obstacles and challenges they will face. We hope that this will include taking an approach that is regional and comprehensive in nature, placing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a regional framework that attempts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole. The window of opportunity for progress is brief and closing. This could well be the last opportunity to save the two-state solution. We believe that Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic home, not to mention vital American interests in the region, hang in the balance. We urge the United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and the greater Arab world to approach these negotiations with a seriousness of purpose suited to the urgency of the moment. The stakes are high, and the status quo unsustainable.