J Street advocates for policies that are rooted in our Jewish and democratic values and in the pursuit of lasting peace and security. We believe that US foreign policy in the Middle East should be rooted in a commitment to diplomacy, multilateralism and human rights, with the goal of helping to secure Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, and to achieve a better future for Israelis, Palestinians and the wider region

US Foreign Policy and Regional Security

The Importance of Diplomacy-First Foreign Policy

J Street believes that American foreign policy should be grounded first and foremost in a commitment to diplomacy and multilateral engagement as the best tools to help resolve conflicts, safeguard democratic values and secure the interests and security of the US and our allies, in the Middle East and around the world.

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J Street believes that Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would pose a very serious threat to American and Israeli interests and to peace and stability in the Middle East and around the world. J Street strongly condemns the Iranian regime’s vile anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rhetoric, its outrageous support for acts of international terrorism, its destabilizing and bloody meddling in the affairs of its neighbors, its buildup of weapons and forces in Syria and its deplorable domestic human rights record.

J Street therefore strongly endorses a diplomacy-first approach to ensure that Iranian regime does not develop a nuclear weapon, and to address the other threats it poses to our allies and the region.

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The US and Israel

The US-Israel Special Relationship

J Street believes that maintaining a strong, vibrant US-Israel relationship is a core American interest. We want to see a secure, thriving Israel that is a healthy democracy, a national home for the Jewish people and a state for all its citizens that embodies the shared values that have long formed the heart of the special relationship between our two countries. We believe that American diplomatic leadership has an important role to play in helping to make this vision a reality, as does cooperation in the security, economic, technological, academic and civil society spheres.

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US Security Assistance to Israel

J Street believes that US security assistance to Israel plays a critical role in maintaining Israel’s security against serious external threats, and helps to advance US national interests. Throughout our history we have advocated for robust security assistance packages, including the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated between the Israeli government and the Obama administration, as well as lobbied in support of legislation to authorize and appropriate all of the aid pledged. We believe that Israel should continue to receive from the United States the full amount of security assistance outlined in the MOU: $3.8 billion per year for the duration of the agreement.

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The US and the Palestinians

US Assistance Benefitting the Palestinians

Just as ensuring the security of Israel is a vital American interest, so is restoring and maintaining robust US assistance benefiting the Palestinian people through both bilateral aid, including cooperation with Palestinian security forces, and funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

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Palestinian Approaches to International Organizations

We believe that the Palestinians have the right to join international organizations, institutions and conventions that welcome them, including as a member state. Given the precarious prospects for achieving the two-state outcome essential to Israel’s survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, we believe Palestinian participation in such fora helps to bolster international support for two states while helpfully obligating the Palestinians to adhere to the responsibilities of statehood in key areas such as security, governance and human rights.

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Boycotts, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

The question of boycotts, divestment and sanctions has drawn increasing attention in the absence of a clear horizon for reaching a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The issue is roiling many campuses and being taken up by city councils, state houses and Congress. J Street has a principled and nuanced position to guide its work on this issue.

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Palestinian Prisoner Payments

J Street strongly opposes the Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying stipends – under the umbrella of a larger welfare program – to those imprisoned or killed in connection with acts of terrorism against Israelis, or to their families. J Street calls on the Palestinian government to replace its prisoners’ payments program with a responsible welfare program to address concerns of incentivizing violence.

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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Occupation

A Negotiated Resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

J Street believes that only a negotiated resolution agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians can meet the legitimate needs and national aspirations of both peoples. Given the reality that both peoples neither will nor should abandon the projects of building sovereign, national homes in their historic homeland, such a resolution will necessarily require two viable states – one Israeli and one Palestinian – living side-by-side in peace and security.

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Occupation, Annexation & Settlements

The ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is a major obstacle to the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace, is a systemic injustice violating the rights of the Palestinian people, and poses a severe threat to Israel’s long-term future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. Military rule over millions of Palestinians who lack civil and political rights represents a daily infringement on the basic rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people, and has been extremely detrimental to Israel’s democracy, security, economy and regional standing.

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Terrorism and Incitement

J Street unequivocally condemns all acts of terror and violence perpetrated by any state or any non-state actor against the State of Israel or its people. We recognize the fundamental right of Israel to take action to prevent and address acts of terror and violence. We also recognize that Palestinians have the same fundamental right to safety and security that Israelis and civilians everywhere do. As required under international law, we believe the Israeli military should take every due precaution to protect the safety of Palestinian civilians.

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A real solution for Gaza must address both Israel’s legitimate security concerns from rockets, tunnels and incendiary devices, as well as the serious humanitarian issues that face the civilian population in Gaza, including easing the blockade to allow for greater freedom of movement for people and goods for non-military purposes, and the absence of vital infrastructure. International experts and Israeli security officials have proposed various innovative steps that could improve the humanitarian situation and alleviate rising tensions. One such proposal would include the construction of a seaport that would increase the flow of vital goods and supplies into Gaza and house much-needed new electricity and water-supply infrastructure.

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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Final Status Issues

Mutual Recognition

A viable resolution to the conflict will recognize the right of the Jewish people to statehood and recognize the right of the Palestinian people to statehood, without prejudice to the equal rights of the parties’ respective citizens – in other words, two states for two peoples, one Jewish and one Palestinian, with mutual recognition and full equal rights for all their respective citizens.

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A viable resolution to the conflict will result in the establishment of final, internationally recognized borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines with limited, agreed-upon land swaps of equivalent size and quality. These borders would allow established Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and some of the large West Bank settlement blocs close to the Green Line to be incorporated into the State of Israel – resulting in communities that are currently home to three-quarters of all Israelis living over the Green Line becoming part of internationally recognized Israel.

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A conflict-ending resolution that results in two states is the only way to guarantee Israel’s security in the long term. Nobody can guarantee a complete end to all violence once a peace deal is reached. But it is clear that without a negotiated resolution to the conflict, violence will continue. Indeed, Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory has not made it secure; in fact, as many of Israel’s senior security officials have argued, the opposite is the case.

A negotiated resolution will ensure that Israel has secure, defensible, universally recognized borders. A cornerstone of such an agreement will be the fulfillment of Palestinian security obligations and the cessation of acts of violence terror. Accordingly, a resolution to the conflict must be accompanied by strong and enforceable security arrangements, such as those proposed by General John Allen in 2014, as well as an international mechanism that holds the parties responsible for maintaining their commitments.

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Jerusalem’s ultimate status and borders are matters that can only be resolved as part of a negotiated agreement between official Israeli and Palestinian authorities and endorsed by both peoples.

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The 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel also left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as displaced refugees. Today, their descendants are scattered across the globe, many lacking citizenship and residing in refugee camps. A solution that offers a measure of justice, recognition of their plight and a mutually agreed-upon resolution of their status is a necessary part of a peace treaty.

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Other Critical Issues

Antisemitism, Racism & Xenophobia

The candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump has both fueled and been fueled by a shocking wave of open and sometimes deadly antisemitism, racism, xenophobia and other bigotry. Our values and the Jewish historical experience that informs them compels us to use our voice and power to lend further weight to those communities, organizations and leaders fighting this rising tide of hatred.

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