Since the collapse of Secretary of State Kerry’s peace initiative last spring, opponents of a two-state solution have continued to work steadily to create new obstacles to peace, in particular through settlement expansion.
We at J Street will not allow these developments to pass under the radar. We’ve launched the “Two-State Alarm” to track these destructive actions and raise the alarm whenever they occur.
This past weekend saw a number of negative and distressing developments in Israel – yet more examples of how the government of Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be turning its back on the possibility of a two-state solution and steering Israeli society in a direction that will ultimately undermine its democracy.
Perhaps the most worrying development was the reported decision by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, on spurious security grounds, to institute new rules that would effectively prevent Palestinians who work in Israel from returning home on buses also used by Israelis (mainly settlers) in the occupied West Bank. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday demanded that Ya’alon explain his decision. This is another step in a longstanding settler campaign to segregate buses completely.
These Palestinians commute to work in Israel every day with permits given to them by the Israeli Security Service. If they really pose a security threat, why are they allowed to enter Israel at all?
If the reports are accurate, this development awakens painful historical memories for the American Jewish community, in light of its proud tradition of fighting against segregation and Jim Crow. Indeed, members of our community gave their lives in this struggle.
The weekend also saw the by-now routine announcement of yet more construction of over 1,000 new units across the Green Line in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa, “pouring kerosene on the flames,” according to Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann. Netanyahu also advanced a number of infrastructure projects in settlements and could soon approve tenders for the construction of an additional 2,000 units in the West Bank.
In another provocative move, Housing Minister Uri Ariel is considering moving to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where Israeli settlers recently took over several buildings in the predominantly-Arab area. Stoking tensions in this manner risks igniting more violence that could rip the city apart in a way not seen since the end of the Second Intifada.
Some Israelis are standing against these moves. Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned that the new settlement plan “will lead to a serious crisis in Israel-US relations and will harm Israel’s standing in the world.”
Pro-Israel Americans need to stand beside them.
Call the Israeli embassy or your local Israeli consulate and tell them to stand up for democracy and not to allow de facto segregation.