J Street Statement on Lowey-Granger Letter

April 14, 2016

April 14, 2016
Washington, DC
CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, 202-279-0005, [email protected]

J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams made the following statement today regarding the letter about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict led by State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) and signed by 388 Members of the House of Representatives:

J Street welcomes several of the key points in this letter which reflect longstanding US policy and even move the ball forward in terms of recommending steps the administration can take to reverse the troubling direction of events that are threatening Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, including:

Affirming bipartisan support for a two-state solution in contrast to anti-two-state solution rhetoric from certain quarters in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail;
Recognizing the need to constructively counter the recent wave of terrorist attacks and address the lack of progress toward two-states as urgent and mutually reinforcing objectives;
Framing the US role as that of a “mediator”– an interlocutor whose role is not merely to convene or facilitate negotiations, but to also offer their own ideas for resolution of areas of disagreement;
Recognizing that only the parties themselves can ultimately end their conflict through a negotiated agreement, while avoiding language in previous Congressional vehicles that progress toward that resolution can only be made through direct negotiations;
Recognizing that such direct negotiations are a worthy goal, while leaving the door open to constructive multilateral approaches, including expressly articulating the need for bringing Arab states into future peace efforts;
Affirming long-standing US opposition to one-sided UN action, while not ruling out productive and balanced UN action such as the UN Security Council Resolutions on the conflict that Republican and Democratic administrations alike have often supported over the course of decades.
We look forward to working with the Members who signed this letter on building support for a new diplomatic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is consistent with these principles.

Below is the full text of the letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We share your frustration with the lack of significant progress toward a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Nevertheless, we remain committed to the objective of two states for two peoples – a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a democratic, Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition. We are united in our willingness to work with you now on constructive steps to counter the recent surge in terrorist activities and foster an environment conducive to eventually restarting serious negotiations.

Only the parties themselves can agree to end their conflict through a negotiated resolution. The United States must maintain its indispensable role of mediator, which has always adhered to the following tenets:

Close coordination with our democratic ally Israel;
A refusal to support counterproductive efforts aimed at imposing a solution on the parties;
Opposition to Palestinian efforts to seek recognition of statehood status in international bodies;
A willingness to oppose and, if need be, veto one-sided United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions;
A commitment to work with Arab states to contribute to peace and development efforts; and
Unequivocal condemnation of terrorist organizations like Hamas until such groups recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce terror, and accept prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Because of our strong commitment to these principles, we are deeply troubled by reports that one-sided initiatives may arise at the UN in the coming months concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Such efforts dangerously hinder the prospects for resuming direct negotiations.

We therefore urge you to continue to insist that it is only at the negotiating table – and not at the UN – that the parties can resolve their complicated differences. Your continued commitment to longstanding U.S. policy to veto one-sided UN Security Council resolutions remains fundamentally critical.

We stand ready to assist you in these efforts, and we look forward to your response.

[Members of Congress]