J Street calls on the leadership of AIPAC and of the entire American pro-Israel movement to join us in opposing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plans to build thousands upon thousands of units of new housing in and around East Jerusalem. Announcing these projects — specifically in this most significant and consequential of areas — signals a clear intent to demolish the chances of diplomatically resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of creating a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
For decades, AIPAC, American Jewish leaders and elected officials have been briefed in depth on what it would one day take to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They have been shown the significance of areas like E-1 and Givat Hamatos. They’ve been told by retired military commanders, urban planners and peace negotiators that these projects constitute red lines that Israel must not cross if it hopes to keep the possibility of a viable state of Palestine alive.
And for two plus decades, Israeli governments have listened not only to the experts, but to the US and the other governments of the world. While some have proceeded with other very harmful settlement expansions, they have — until now — refrained from crossing these ultimate red lines.
This week, one week before the latest election and three weeks before the start of the prime minister’s corruption trial, the Israeli government has decided to cross every remaining red line all at once.
With the sequential announcements of intent to build in the areas of E-1, Givat Hamatos/Har Homa and Atarot, Prime Minister Netanyahu has painted a clear picture of what it looks like when a government of Israel no longer even feigns interest in resolving its conflict with the Palestinians, is unbound by the rule of law and is given an unquestioning green light for its plans by the United States. With the full blessing of the Trump White House, the government of Israel has outlined its plan to forever be the only sovereign state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and to confine Palestinians to small, unconnected enclaves of limited, stateless “autonomy.”
Our question is what those gathering under the AIPAC banner next week will do — after claiming for years to support a two-state solution. As importantly, what will American political leaders who have suggested that going to AIPAC simply expresses bipartisan support for the state of Israel say? Will they object to the prime minister’s plans, knowing full well that the course he has set is itself destroying bipartisan support for Israel?
What a sad moment this is for the state of Israel, for the Palestinian people and for Americans who have poured their heart and soul into helping Israel be a democratic state and a Jewish home of which their children and grandchildren would be proud. What a dangerous moment this is for Israelis as their desperate prime minister cynically places his own political survival ahead of the interests and security of his country.
If the pro-Israel establishment fails to respond — if instead they stand and cheer for the US and Israeli governments that are facilitating these moves — they will bear considerable responsibility for the future of perpetual occupation, deteriorating democracy and unending conflict that Israel faces in the years ahead. If we want to achieve a different, better future, now is the time to speak out and take action.
If you claim to support a two-state solution, speak out against Netanyahu’s devastating settlement plans.