Statement by Jewish American organizations on issues raised regarding construction in Jerusalem

July 29, 2009

Today, J Street, Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, and Meretz USA released the following statement on the Obama Administration’s policy on Jerusalem:

We are Jewish American organizations who have a deep and abiding connection to Jerusalem and believe that Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of the state of Israel. Along with 76 percent of Jewish Americans, we support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, believing it is an essential interest of Israel’s as well as of the United States. Jerusalem is perhaps the most sensitive final status issue that will have to be resolved.  We believe that issues of borders and sovereignty related to Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations in the context of a regional, comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unilateral actions that inflame tensions, impair negotiations and make the ultimate resolution of issues surrounding Jerusalem more difficult, are unhelpful and should be avoided at this particularly sensitive moment. We support the Obama administration’s effort to move quickly toward a comprehensive, regional resolution to the conflict, its call on all sides to take steps that move in the direction of peace, and its opposition to unilateral actions that make resolution more difficult. Finally, we urge those who choose to enter the debate on Jerusalem do so carefully and with arguments based on facts and law – not ideology.  For instance, it is a matter of law and of fact that Arab residents of East Jerusalem do not have the right to purchase state-owned property in West Jerusalem – and the overwhelming majority of all land in Israel is state-owned.  Claims that somehow Jerusalem’s Arab residents currently have the same rights to live where they choose as Jewish residents are simply untrue and provide an inaccurate picture of a city that remains divided based on ethnicity, religion and geography.