Statement on Israeli construction in East Jerusalem

July 20, 2009

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement today:

J Street is dismayed at news reports that the Government of Israel has rejected an American request to halt Irving Moskowitz’s planned development of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem. This is exactly the kind of move that undercuts hopes for normalization and the resumption of serious negotiations, therefore hindering the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

J Street supports the President’s call for adherence to past agreements including a full construction freeze, as well as his call for Palestinian steps to end incitement to violence and Arab moves toward normalization with Israel.

Jerusalem remains, perhaps, the most sensitive and difficult issue to be addressed as part of any effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We believe that both sides have an interest in avoiding actions that make an ultimate resolution even harder to achieve.

Jerusalem should and will be the internationally recognized capital of Israel, and the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem should become the capital of a future Palestinian state. This is the premise underlying all efforts to date to articulate a viable two-state solution. The exact arrangements will need to be agreed upon by both the Israelis and Palestinians as part of a two-state agreement, which is essential to Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic homeland. Any unilateral actions taken now – such as moving forward with construction at the Shepherd Hotel – only make a viable solution more difficult to achieve and, in our opinion, undercut the long-term interests of the state of Israel.