The new Israeli government is deadset against a two-state solution– as Allison Deger and the Institute for Middle East Understanding have both documented. And yet the other day the New York Times promoted a fantasy: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu wants to enter into negotiations.
Two voices from the liberal Zionist camp are saying flatly that Netanyahu is full of it, and the U.S. should oppose such talks because they will only give Netanyahu and the occupation cover.
Americans for Peace Now issued an emphatic statement saying that Netanyahu or his aides are lying, the Israeli government is “anathema to peace,” and the United States should not give it any cover. “There can be no further debate”– neither Netanyahu nor this government “is a partner for peace.”
“This week, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly announced his readiness to negotiate with the Palestinians over settlement ‘blocs.’ The United States and international community must reject this transparently cynical bluff. New negotiations now – or pressure on the Palestinians to go back to talks with a Netanyahu government – would be futile and counterproductive, further discrediting diplomacy and U.S. leadership. They would provide cover for further Israeli government policies and actions that are anathema to peace. They would further undermine the already diminishing Palestinian support for the two-state outcome and feed international boycott-divestment-sanctions efforts.
“In the wake of the recent Israeli election campaign, during which Netanyahu proudly touted his pro-settlement credentials and unabashedly vowed that no Palestinian state would be established while he is in office – and in the wake of his formation of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history – there can be no further debate: neither Netanyahu, nor this government, is a partner for peace – not for the Palestinians, not for supporters of the Arab Peace Initiative, and not for the United States and broader international community..”
The Peace Now statement says the U.S. should not enter into any negotiations with Israel but go to the United Nations now to push a two-state solution along the lines of the Arab Peace Initiative:
“the United States and international community must set aside, for now, the long-pursued objective of fostering Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“The time has come for the U.S. to focus on restoring the credibility of its own policies and, in the process, the credibility of the two-state outcome. To achieve this, we urge the Obama Administration to reject Netanyahu’s hollow, self-serving calls for negotiations to legitimize de facto annexation of large areas of the West Bank. Instead, the U.S. should clarify and articulate U.S. policy vis-à-vis the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – in greater resolution and with greater resolve than has been done at any time in the past, by any administration. The era of ‘constructive ambiguity’ must definitively end, along with the era, dating back to long before the Obama Administration, of articulating U.S. policies regarding settlements that, when challenged by Israeli actions, are proven to be empty words.
“We believe that an Israel-Palestine two-state initiative in the United Nations Security Council, led by the Obama Administration, or formulated in cooperation with key international partners, would be a powerful vehicle for such an articulation… While the U.S. should of course continue to engage both parties, there must be no further efforts, public or private, to pre-negotiate text or positions with the Israeli government or the Palestinian leadership.
“By pursuing this course, the United States can re-assert and re-accredit U.S. leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian arena and beyond…”
“We have to realize that this window of opportunity that we’re constantly talking about has closed. … This current administration is saying clearly… now that this idea of a two state solution is something that definitely the majority of the government is not supporting…
“The only optimism I have is that things are clearing up. If you’re going to be a supporter of this government, and you’re going to say, whatever Israel does, there has to be a reason, then you’re my enemy, because you’re maintaining the occupation and you’re making sure that generation after generation will be part of this suffering– victim and victimizers…
“If they will start another round of semi- or false negotiation, and maybe this will happen, because there will be big enough pressure from Europe and the States, then we [must not have people in the west] saying, Hurrah they’re in the room again. That’s exactly what happened a year and a half ago, with Tzipi Livni. I think it was clear from thousands of kilometers away that nothing was going to happen… but still there was this investment and support. But I think as things clear up, if this administration will come back and say, We are going to go back in the room, we have to oppose that. We have to say, go into the room only if you are going to do a, b, and c.”
We’ve heard nothing like these statements from the liberal Zionist group J Street.
Three weeks ago, it called on the Israeli prime minister to prove his commitment to a Palestinian state:
Netanyahu should immediately clear up any ambiguity about where the new government stands. Vague statements and aspirations will not be sufficient. He must demonstrate through concrete action that his government endorses a two-state solution, abandoning the destructive policies of settlement expansion that his coalition partners will surely demand, and committing to the difficult compromises that peace requires.
The prime minister has a narrow opportunity to prove that he is a partner for peace. We strongly urge him to take it.
So that was 23 days ago, and the Defense minister has now called for segregated buses in the West Bank, and an adviser to Netanyahu has said that Pope Francis’s recognition of a Palestinian state is akin to “the latest attempt to nail the entire Jewish people to the cross.” And Netanyahu has appointed Silvan Shalom to head negotiations with the Palestinians, but Shalom has said: “We are all against a Palestinian state, there is no question about it.” And the Deputy Foreign Minister says God gave the Jews all the land between the river and the sea; and Netanyahu’s Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel has thumbed his nose at Obama:
@POTUS welcome! Happy Jerusalem Day! in case u didn׳t hear PM Netanyahu: “Jerusalem won’t be divided again, we build all over the city”
It sure seems as if J Street’s “narrow” opportunity is over. J Street has had no follow up.
J Street loved Obama’s speech at the Washington synagogue a week ago, and seemed to glimpse the possibility of U.S. pressure in it–
As his administration presses Prime Minister Netanyahu and his new government to demonstrate a commitment to a two-state solution, and works to finalize a deal that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, the President should know that the vast majority of American Jews supports him and hopes that he succeeds.
But there’s no sense that J Street is willing to do anything concrete to try and end the occupation.