Statement on the outcome of yesterday’s Israeli elections

February 11, 2009

J Street congratulates the winners in yesterday’s Israeli elections and hopes the process of forming a new government will be as quick and smooth as possible, given the results.

These are difficult times for Israel and for the Middle East. Serious threats abound, not only to Israel’s future but to broader regional stability and to global security.  Time is running out for a workable, peaceful resolution to the conflicts Israel faces with its neighbors, making the term of the next Prime Minister critical to determining the future of Israel.

The top priority of the next Prime Minister needs to be a comprehensive and viable resolution to the conflicts between Israel and her neighbors.  We urge all of Israel’s leaders to heed the words of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “if the day comes when the two-state solution collapses… the State of Israel is finished.”

As Americans, we believe the results do not change the fundamental American interest in exercising strong diplomatic leadership to achieve a two-state solution and to chart a course to security and stability in the region.  This is not only essential for Israel and the Palestinians – it is a critical U.S. interest as well.  We are encouraged by and will continue to build support for the Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell in advancing this agenda and bringing true peace and security to the entire Middle East.

We hope all parties here and in the region recognize, as Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar told us today, that no matter what the exact shape of the Israeli government, there is no more time for “business as usual.”  The future of Israel, the stability of the region and fundamental interests of the United States are at stake.

One final note: we cannot comment on the election without noting our deep concern over the strong showing by Avigdor Lieberman in light of the campaign he ran on a platform offensive to basic notions of democracy and to principles central to the Jewish tradition. With deep respect for Israel’s democracy, we call on American Jews and organizations that represent them to make clear that we will not remain silent if the prejudice and intolerance promoted by his party actually become part of the incoming Israeli government’s policies and philosophy.