As Americans and as supporters of Israel, J Street respects and values Israel's democratic process even when it results in a government with whose policies we may disagree. The new Israeli government will be judged by its actions in confronting the major challenges facing Israel. High on the agenda must be securing Israel’s long-term security and its democracy, which can only be achieved through an agreement to end the conflict with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution. The new government must also work hard to repair the crucial US-Israel relationship, which has been severely strained by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s actions.
We are deeply concerned by the makeup of this coalition, slated to be the most right-wing in Israel’s history. Netanyahu’s public renunciation of the two-state solution during his re-election campaign is shared by the vast majority of his new cabinet, many of whom are committed supporters of the settlement movement.
It will be notable if the formal Coalition Agreement, which forms the basis of the government’s legislative program, does not include mention of a two-state solution. This glaring omission will risk deepening Israel’s international isolation and further weaken its relationship with the US, which is founded on shared values incompatible with the permanent occupation of millions of Palestinians.
Netanyahu should immediately clear up any ambiguity about where the new government stands. Vague statements and aspirations will not be sufficient. He must demonstrate through concrete action that his government endorses a two-state solution, abandoning the destructive policies of settlement expansion that his coalition partners will surely demand, and committing to the difficult compromises that peace requires.
The prime minister has a narrow opportunity to prove that he is a partner for peace. We strongly urge him to take it.