J Street Calls for Stronger American Engagement to Stop Provocative Actions in Jerusalem

December 4, 2009

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement today:

J Street is deeply concerned about increasing tension in Jerusalem and provocative actions being taken by the Israeli government and settler groups there that threaten prospects for agreement on the city’s status and borders as part of a negotiated two-state solution. Jerusalem’s ultimate status and borders should be negotiated and resolved as part of an agreement between Israeli and Palestinian authorities. We believe such an agreement will ultimately recognize that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem and that the capital of the future Palestinian state will be East Jerusalem. J Street supports Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem being incorporated as part of Israel in a new border arrangement that includes equal land swaps.  Exact details should be worked out in negotiations with the parties. In advance of such an agreement, J Street urges the U.S. government to forcefully oppose provocative, unilateral actions – including new construction of Jewish housing in the eastern part of the city, evictions, demolitions, and unwarranted revocation of residency status – that will make the ultimate resolution of this issue even more difficult. J Street condemns the eviction of the fourth Palestinian family this year from their home in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem pursuant to an Israeli High Court order.  J Street regards the immediate installment of Israeli settlers in the supposedly illegal structure as not only a violation of Israel’s obligations under international law but also an affront to traditional Jewish conceptions of justice and fairness. J Street is also troubled by figures revealed this week which show that Israel stripped a record number of Palestinians of their Jerusalem residency status in 2008, and the accompanying freedom of movement and insurance benefits.  In total, 4,577 Palestinians were deprived of their Jerusalem residency status last year, as compared to 8,558 for the entire period between 1967 and the end of 2007. Failure to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an existential threat to the state of Israel as a democratic home for the Jewish people. Unilateral and provocative actions in East Jerusalem that make the two-state solution less and less likely undercut the long-term interests of the state of Israel and those who support it. We urge the United States and American political leaders to seek an end to actions that only serve to move us further from the goal of a negotiated two-state solution and a lasting peace in the region and to refrain from steps, rhetorical or practical, that inflame an already tense situation.  For example, visiting East Jerusalem for fundraisers on properties recently seized from Arab families, as Mike Huckabee recently did, or laying cornerstones for new developments for Jewish residents in an historically Arab part of the city, as New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind did, only inflames tensions and makes conflict not peace more likely.