Statement on Israeli Cabinet Decision Regarding Gaza Blockade

June 17, 2010

Today, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement in response to the Israeli security cabinet’s decision regarding the Gaza blockade:

J Street welcomes today’s Israeli cabinet decision to “liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza.”

For some time, we have called for a re-examination of the Israeli policy toward Gaza. We have believed that the closure as implemented was not serving Israel’s best interests, was strengthening Hamas’ capabilities and hold on the Strip, and was imposing an unacceptable level of hardship on the civilian population. We have maintained that it should be possible to prevent the transfer of weapons through security checkpoints, while allowing humanitarian goods, basic necessities and construction materials into Gaza under proper supervision.

We are pleased that the government of Israel now shares our view. It is important to us as well to note the government’s call on the international community to work toward the immediate release of Gilad Shalit – a goal that we share and believe should receive much more attention and concern from the international community. We await the details of the implementation of the Security Cabinet’s guidelines and hope that the list of items that will be restricted will be limited in its content and strictly apply to materials with a clear military use.

The new policy announced this morning should also have an impact on the Congressional letters currently circulating in the House and the Senate which offer unquestioning support for policies and actions that even Israel has shown itself willing to re-examine. We urge Members of Congress to amend these letters to articulate a more nuanced approach that takes into account Israel’s legitimate security concerns while recognizing the basic human rights and needs of the people of Gaza and underscoring the urgency of bold American leadership to achieve two states and secure the best interests of the U.S., Israel, the Palestinians, and the broader region.