J Street Responds to Rep. Gary Ackerman

January 25, 2011

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement in response to Rep. Gary Ackerman’s comments on J Street:

J Street deeply regrets and objects to Rep. Gary Ackerman’s statement today. It reflects a misunderstanding of J Street’s position and of the UN Resolution in question. J Street hopes “never to see the state of Israel publicly taken to task by the United Nations,” as we said in our statement last week.

In fact, our statement outlined how both Israel and the United States can help to avoid this issue coming to a vote at the United Nations – first, by Israel acting in its own self-interest to freeze settlement activity over the Green Line and, second, by the Obama Administration asserting “clear leadership in a serious effort to reach a two-state resolution of the conflict.” In the absence of either of these, it should not surprise Representative Ackerman or other friends of Israel that the issue is brought to the United Nations and the broader court of world opinion. Without a two-state solution to the conflict in the near term, pressure on Israel in international fora will increasingly be the norm and not the exception.

As supporters of Israel, the fact that we have reached this point pains us deeply, and so does the Congressman’s misrepresentation of our position and of this resolution.

First, we do not “support” UN condemnation of Israel or endorse this resolution. We have urged the United States to consider withholding its veto from a resolution criticizing Israeli settlement activity – a resolution that closely tracks the policy of the United States under the last eight administrations.

Second, the resolution expresses support for a two-state solution and stresses the urgency of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace. It calls on both parties to improve the situation on the ground, build confidence, and create conditions necessary for promoting the peace process. The resolution does not, as the Congressman implies, place the ‘whole responsibility for the current impasse in the peace process’ on Israel – and neither does J Street.

Third, the resolution calls on both parties to continue negotiations on final status issues. The status quo in the Middle East is untenable. The future of Israel, as both a democracy and the homeland of the Jewish people, hangs in the balance without progress toward a two-state solution.

At a moment crying out for leadership, what’s needed now is not the politics of yesterday that the Congressman offers with this attack, but the courage to put on the table the tough steps that are needed to end this conflict. We do Israel no favors by offering a pass from facing the consequences of counter-productive actions and policies. J Street has never excused Palestinian intransigence or signaled that the Palestinian leadership need not meet its obligations as well.

We have called on the leaders of all parties to help bring about a reasonable, negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict. We urge Congressman Ackerman to take a closer look at J Street’s statement, the UN Resolution and the situation on the ground. Saving the two-state solution will require leaders with courage and vision, both of which are sadly lacking in the Congressman’s statement today.