Trump Administration Must Challenge Both Sides to Make Choices to Advance Prospects for Peace

June 21, 2017

As Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner arrives in Israel today for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, J Street urges the Trump administration to challenge both sides to make the serious choices and compromises necessary to achieve a two-state solution and a comprehensive regional peace agreement.

Kushner’s meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas are the latest step in the administration’s effort to re-start the peace process and help the parties return to the negotiating table. Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special envoy for Middle East peace, has been extremely active in meeting with officials and experts on both sides, encouraging proactive steps and confidence-building measures.

It’s clear that evolving regional dynamics have created a potentially historic opening for a comprehensive regional approach to this conflict, one that could bring Israel lasting security, regional recognition and increased economic opportunity while finally bringing Palestinians self-determination in an independent state of their own. Such an agreement has wide support among Arab leaders – and among the Israeli public as well. According to a newly-released survey, 84 percent of Israelis would accept such an agreement.

Of course, taking advantage of this opportunity will require responsible leadership and decision-making by both sides. Unfortunately, the current Israeli government has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not serious about pursuing and negotiating a two-state solution.

Most recently, just as Kushner arrives in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu has proudly touted the start of construction on the first new, state-approved West Bank settlement in two decades. The construction of this settlement, far outside the blocs that are likely to remain part of Israel under any agreement, is just the latest sign that the far-right settlement movement is using its influence to prevent serious negotiations and block the two-state solution. Meanwhile, a pledge to allow much-needed construction in the Palestinian city of Qalqilya has also been delayed due to pressure from the settlement movement.

If Israeli leaders choose to put the agenda of a powerful fringe movement over the will of the majority and Israel’s long-term interests, then the opportunity to resolve the conflict and help transform the future of the Middle East will be squandered. The Trump administration must do everything that it can to make that absolutely clear – and to encourage our friend and ally to choose the right path.

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