J Street on Palestine Papers: Obama Administration Must Step Up

January 24, 2011

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement in response to the release of over 1,600 internal documents from the last decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations:

How many more signs are needed before the White House recognizes the need for a serious Presidential initiative to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it is too late? We of course don’t know yet if history will judge this week’s release of critical Palestinian papers to be the straw that broke the camel’s back of the chances for a two-state solution. Perhaps history will judge that moment to have been when Israel decided to continue settlement expansion last fall, or maybe it will be if and when the Palestinians simply give up on two states and focus on gaining equal rights in one bi-national state. We do know, however, that week by week, step by step, the chances of achieving a two-state solution are dwindling.

The failure of the Middle East peace process has created a vacuum, and further American inaction – giving in to the temptation to put off a new initiative – only decreases the chances of achieving lasting peace and security in the region. J Street calls on President Obama to take strong action immediately to ensure that a viable two-state solution that meets well-known, internationally-accepted parameters is put on the table now. We urge that this begin with proposals on borders and security and proceed quickly to cover all final status issues.

We now know from the Palestinian papers released over the weekend by Al Jazeera that the Palestinian leadership is ready to make painful concessions to achieve a two-state solution. We also know that, absent movement on the diplomatic front, the next stop will be the United Nations in New York which will be asked not only to condemn Israeli settlements in the coming weeks but most likely to recognize Palestinian independence in the fall.

We see both publicly and now, from these documents, privately the ongoing intransigence of the Israeli government and its rigid determination to continue expanding and deepening its presence in areas beyond the 1967 Green Line. They are on the verge of killing chances for a two-state solution and with it the chances of Israel’s long-term survival and security as both a Jewish and a democratic nation. Only bold American leadership can lead to the resolution of this conflict, and we urge the President to act now before it is too late.