J Street responds to Netanyahu’s comments on settlement expansion

May 26, 2009

Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street Executive Director, released the following statement upon reports of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent comments regarding settlement expansion:

J Street is deeply dismayed by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks Sunday in which he rejected both a full settlement freeze in the West Bank and limitations on Israeli expansion in disputed areas of Jerusalem. Just last week, the Prime Minister heard clearly from President Barack Obama and from other American political leaders that settlement construction and expansion must end.  We share their concern that further growth of any kind only diminishes the prospects for peace and for the two-state solution that is essential to Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic homeland.

J Street commends Rep. Gary Ackerman, Chairman of the House Middle East Subcommittee, and the delegation of Committee Members he is leading for carrying this message strongly to Israel’s leadership during a visit this week. The President, Vice President Biden, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and these members of Congress all agree that a serious push for a two-state solution – as well as broader peace negotiations between Israel and her neighbors – must begin with a full freeze of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. In speaking out against settlement expansion, these American leaders have widespread support in the American Jewish community.

Our recent poll shows that some 60 percent of American Jews firmly oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements, recognizing it as being detrimental to the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace efforts, which they overwhelmingly favor. Bold American leadership is critical to such peace efforts and we hope Prime Minister Netanyahu will work with the US government to implement a comprehensive and immediate halt to all settlement activity.