Israeli Decision to Suspend Talks is Premature

April 24, 2014

J Street believes the Israeli government’s decision to suspend peace talks with the Palestinians over the preliminary reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas is premature.

The reconciliation agreement has yet to be implemented, and many critical questions remain unanswered. With five days left before the deadline for Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative, all involved should be searching for purposeful actions to revive the troubled process, not accelerating its demise.

In this moment of crisis and uncertainty, American leadership is more important than ever. That is why J Street has called on the Obama administration to present its own framework for a two-state peace agreement to create a basis for both sides to move forward and to provide a clear test of the seriousness of the intentions of both parties.

In reacting to the reconciliation agreement, we stressed that any Palestinian government must abide by international agreements, recognize Israel and renounce violence. If Hamas were to accept those terms, it would be an historic and potentially transformative event. Alternatively, if a Palestinian government were to be formed that reverses its position on these fundamental principles, it would be devastating for the prospects for peace.

But today, Israel is dealing with the same entities it has been dealing with since the beginning of this process— the PLO and a Palestinian government that rejects terrorism and believes in a two-state solution and Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.

It is premature for either the Israeli government or the US Congress to take steps to punish the Palestinian Authority for this reconciliation agreement before the composition and policies of the new government are known. Suspending peace talks or American aid will hurt Israel’s long-term security as much or more as it will hurt the Palestinians.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a choice with each step they are taking in these critical days: reignite the familiar cycle of blame, retaliation and pain that has plagued their peoples for decades, or, with the help of the US, bring that cycle to an end. We urge all involved to work to defuse the building tension and to salvage the promise of a secure and peaceful future that Secretary Kerry laid out before the parties nine months ago.