Renewed Gaza Hostilities
Aim for Conflict Resolution, Not Just a Ceasefire
While the immediate task for diplomats right now must be to bring a renewed ceasefire, we urge that the focus turn quickly to the pursuit of a sustainable, long-term arrangement that addresses the underlying issues in and root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We deeply disagree with those who argue that the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be managed and not solved. We also disagree with those who see the possibility of a military solution to the conflict. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) can capably respond to tactical threats – whether rockets, terror, tunnels or in other forms. It cannot defeat Hamas’ ideology – or more importantly the Palestinian quest for freedom – without an incomprehensible level of death and destruction.
We urge that this moment be seized to pursue the resolution of the underlying conflict through negotiations and diplomacy and to achieve an agreement that provides Israel with long-run peace and security, international legitimacy and regional acceptance while providing the Palestinian people with a state that offers freedom, justice and self-determination.
The two-state solution within a broader regional and comprehensive agreement is – as President Obama said last March – necessary, just and possible. To get there, J Street urges the parties to pursue an agreed upon path forward that:
- Meets the security needs of Israel, in particular by ensuring that the future Palestinian state – encompassing both the West Bank and Gaza – is de-militarized. The assistance of the Arab world, the Palestinian Authority and the international community will be needed to achieve this goal.
- Addresses the humanitarian situation in Gaza. As President Obama said yesterday, “Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off from the world and incapable of providing some opportunity – jobs, economic growth – for the population that lives there.” The restrictions on movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza must be eased and a massive investment in infrastructure and economic development is needed.
- Empowers the moderate forces in Palestinian society: President Abbas, the PLO and the present government of the Palestinian Authority should be supported robustly following the collapse of negotiations and the end of this war. Additionally, all efforts should be made to explore the opportunities for reconciliation between Gaza and West Bank such that President Abbas emerges stronger. Palestinian partners for resolving the conflict through two state, diplomacy and non-violence must be strengthened now before it is too late.
- Adopts a comprehensive, regional approach to resolving the Arab-Israel conflict involving Egypt, Jordan and moderate states in the Gulf states willing to play a helpful role. The centerpiece of such an agreement should be the two-state solution, but its goal should be broader – drawing on the Arab Peace Initiative – providing security guarantees, economic investment and a common approach to shared interests, opportunities and threats.
Role of the United States
Only Israel’s government and Palestinian leaders can make the critical decisions that end this conflict peacefully. The United States can, however, play a vital role in advancing a resolution.
J Street’s primary task in the weeks and months ahead remains to persuade American politicians and policymakers that the ultimate act of friendship to the state of Israel is using the instruments of American policy to advance the resolution of the conflict.
We urge the President and the Secretary of State to remain actively engaged in efforts to resolve the conflict, and we will argue forcefully against those who attack American engagement and specific American leaders in hopes of derailing diplomatic progress.
We urge Congress to avoid further one-sided declarations or actions that fail to recognize the needs of both parties or to promote a comprehensive and just resolution of the conflict.
Role of the American Jewish community
Over the past month, the established institutions and leaders of the American Jewish community rallied with passion and energy in support of the state and the people of Israel at a time of conflict.
Now, we challenge the American Jewish community to press Israel with equal passion and energy to recognize the threat to its future that stems from failure to resolve the underlying conflict and to end the 47-year occupation.
Most leaders of American Jewry do understand that the only way to preserve a democratic home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel is through a two-state solution to this nearly 100 year-old conflict. In fact, nearly 80 percent support of the American Jewish community supports the two-state solution.
Another immediate priority for J Street in the coming weeks will be to urge American Jewish leaders and institutions to be as vocal about the existential threat that the lack of a two-state solution poses to Israel as they are about rockets and terror. Further, we will urge those leaders and institutions that it is not enough to support the concept of two states in theory. It’s necessary to talk about the compromises – and the benefits – that a two-state solution will entail.
Fighting Racism and Promoting Tolerance
From the revenge killing of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to the very public anti-Arab pronouncements by members of the Knesset and by ordinary citizens, voices of hatred and racism have emerged and actions have occurred that run counter to the most basic of Jewish values. As troubling as these anti-Arab sentiments have been the violence and hatred directed at those who chose to dissent from the communal consensus surrounding the Israeli government’s course of action during the crisis.
The growing lack of tolerance for political dissent and for opposing viewpoints should be of grave concern to Jewish leaders in the United States and in Israel. Racism and intolerance should have no place in our community.
A third immediate priority for J Street will be calling out these troubling developments and standing strongly with our allies for the principles of democracy, open debate and civil discourse.
Building a Secure and Better Future
Despite the awful violence and the tremendous losses we have just experienced, we remain thoroughly convinced that a better future can be built for both Israelis and Palestinians – one that is hopeful, uplifting and that meets the needs and upholds the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.
For Israelis, the future can provide security, legitimacy and acceptance in a national homeland for the Jewish people within internationally-recognized borders. For Palestinians, it can provide freedom, self-determination and opportunity in a viable national homeland living at peace next to Israel.
Advocacy for Israel can and must be about more than simply supporting the country as it fights its enemies for survival. It must be about building a future that embodies the best of the Jewish people and brings our values and hopes to life.