Statement by Jeremy Ben-Ami on Newt Gingrich Remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

December 12, 2011

WASHINGTON—J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement in response to Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s recent remarks about the Palestinians.

“Newt Gingrich’s comments about the Palestinian people and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are ill-informed, irresponsible and frightening.

The former Speaker’s assertion that the Palestinians are an ‘invented’ people shows an appalling lack of understanding of the history of the Middle East in the last century following the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.

Gingrich further misunderstands the present-day politics of the Palestinian people, willfully blurring distinctions among Palestinian factions and demeaning the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to state-building, security cooperation with Israel and pursuit of a two-state solution.

Most dangerous, however, is the threat a Gingrich presidency could pose to the future of Israel and the region. Israel’s long-term security as a Jewish homeland and democratic state depends on the establishment of a Palestinian state living next door. Israel simply cannot retain control of all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and remain both Jewish and democratic.

This is a fact that Israeli Prime Ministers and US Presidents of all political persuasions have recognized for more than two decades. Achieving a two-state solution to the conflict is not simply essential to Israel, it’s also a fundamental American national interest. A truly pro-Israel President taking office in 2013 will do more, not less, to end this conflict in a two-state solution.

Newt Gingrich is recklessly pursuing political gain by throwing gasoline on the powder keg of the Middle East. The consequences will be dire not just for Israel but for the United States as well.

To us, the Speaker’s remarks are not what a pro-Israel politician should be saying. J Street calls on Speaker Gingrich to retract his comments and on other Presidential candidates – and the President himself – to push back strongly in the campaign to come against ideas like these that are far outside the mainstream of American foreign policy.”