Guest post by Representative Jim McDermott

June 27, 2011

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) is serving in his twelfth term in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 7th Congressional District of Washington State, which includes Seattle and parts of several neighboring communities.

J Street opposes the Gaza-bound flotilla

A year after the Mavi Marmara “Gaza Flotilla” incident, we are no closer to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the absence of progress, the possibility of dramatic actions such as another flotilla or United Nations consideration of Palestinian statehood in September is on the horizon.

According to news reports, Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation has canceled participation in a new aid flotilla to Gaza. Others – including U.S. boat Audacity of Hope – are still bound to leave in a matter of days. It is my sincere hope that any such endeavor will not be met with force. I strongly urge the State Department to extend full diplomatic and consular resources to ensure the safety of all American participants on the U.S. boat.

More broadly, the United States must continue to lead the Israelis and Palestinians in restarting talks that will bring about negotiated peace. In recent speeches, President Obama clearly stated the most plausible starting point — 1967 borders with agreed upon swaps. This policy is common-sense and, indeed, it has been the policy of previous U.S. Presidents and Israeli Prime Ministers.

I have always believed that there should be no pre-conditions to talking. That’s what we can learn from the successful peace talks in Northern Ireland, which brought the bitter enemies together for direct negotiation. And that is what we need to see among Palestinians and Israelis. Getting to the negotiating table is the only first step to peace and the only place where the long-term security and stability for both sides can be satisfied.