J Street Urges All Sides to Refrain from Unilateral Actions, Renounce Incitement as Direct Talks Begin

August 31, 2010

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement ahead of this week’s launch of direct talks between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority:

J Street welcomes the arrival of the respective delegations and leaders – including those of Israel and the Palestinian Authority – to Washington for the opening of direct negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We warmly support the dedication and effort of President Obama and his administration to achieving the goal of a two-state solution that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the context of a regional, comprehensive peace. This has been the core objective of J Street since its founding, and we remain as dedicated as ever to its achievement today. We will do all we can to rally support for this effort and to urge all parties to make the tough choices and to take the steps necessary to achieve a positive result in the months ahead.

The talks that begin this week are a starting point, not an end in and of themselves. The goal has never been, and shouldn’t be, the existence of a “peace process” or talks for talks’ sake. The goal is to end the conflict in such a way that Israel’s security is assured – as the national home of the Jewish people and a democracy – and Palestinian aspirations for freedom and independence are achieved through a viable, sovereign state of Palestine, providing a national home for the Palestinian people alongside it. This is a vital interest for Israelis and Palestinians, for their neighbors in the region, and for us as Americans.

We have urged all sides to refrain from unilateral actions that can undermine trust and derail the talks at this critical moment. In particular – as we urged all sides to press the Palestinians to join these talks in the first place – we now urge Israel to refrain from resuming construction beyond the Green Line. Once there is a border, there will be no need for further discussion of limits on construction.

Similarly, as we have urged the Palestinian leadership to renounce incitement, so too should Israeli leaders — including recent outrageous and incendiary comments by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that only serve to promote intolerance and undercut the prospects for peace.

These talks are perhaps the last chance to save the two-state solution and they represent the best hope for achieving long-term peace and security for Israel and its neighbors. We hope all those who care so deeply about the future of the region will come together in support of this effort and do whatever they can to help ensure its success.