Brit Tzedek issued the following press release today.  Please see below for additional resources on the Saudi peace initiative.

AMERICAN JEWISH GROUP SEES OPENING:
SAUDI PEACE INITIATIVE
 

CHICAGO—Diane Balser, national chair of advocacy for Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, the country’s largest and most vibrant Jewish grassroots peace movement, welcomed the Arab League’s unanimous endorsement of the Saudi Arabian peace initiative, calling it “an historic opportunity” for the U.S. Administration to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and end the conflict between Israel and her neighbors.  

In response to the Arab League’s vote yesterday, Balser issued the following statement: 

ADVOCACY UPDATE: Brit Tzedek and pro-peace forces succeed in modifying Nelson-Ensign letter that called for banning US contact with Palestinian moderates!

Click here to read more and thank those senators who didn't sign on!

“We applaud the Arab League’s unanimous endorsement of the Saudi Arabian peace initiative that proposes a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an opening for achieving a comprehensive peace with all Arab countries.  We emphatically urge the U.S. Administration to seize this historic opportunity to work in partnership with the Arab League to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations toward the end of achieving a peaceful resolution to Israel’s conflict with her neighbors. 

In particular, we welcome the endorsement of this proposal by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is empowered by the new unity government to negotiate a resolution to this conflict, which must, in turn, be ratified by a popular referendum. Although we are disappointed by Hamas member Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s abstention, we believe that ultimately the strong and consistent support of the Palestinian people for a negotiated, two-state resolution will prevail. 

We strongly support the fundamental principles of the Saudi Arabian proposal, including the recognition of Israel and its right to exist in peace and security in exchange for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel and a subsequent end to the occupation. We recognize that there are problematic aspects of the Saudi proposal but believe that they can be addressed through direct negotiations.  Therefore, we ask the U.S. Administration to show flexibility in supporting this initiative as the basis for restarting negotiations, allowing the specifics to be worked out by the parties.  

The greatest value of the Saudi peace initiative is that it marshals Arab support for reviving meaningful peace negotiations, a goal which Secretary Rice herself declared earlier in the week to be a “top priority” of the Bush administration. We welcome the Secretary’s promise this week to renew U.S. diplomatic engagement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We commend her on initiating bi-monthly meetings between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas to substantively address the most pressing concerns on the ground.  We urge the Secretary not to squander the opportunity created by the Saudi initiative. We hope that she will follow through quickly on her plan to establish benchmarks to measure progress, and will go further to put in place concrete mechanisms to monitor and ensure compliance. Sustained and serious U.S. diplomatic engagement would greatly build confidence and reinvigorate substantial negotiations between the parties.” 

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, is a national grassroots organization more than 36,000 strong, that educates and mobilizes American Jews in support of a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Additional resources on the Saudi peace initiative: 

Arab leaders urge Israel, world to take peace offer, by Wafa Amr and Andrew Hammond. Reuters. March 28, 2007.

The best opportunity in years, by Yossi Alpher.  Bitterlemons.org. March 26, 2007. 

What are we waiting for? by Zalman Shapira.  Haaretz.  March 29, 2007.

A welcome summit in Riyadh, by Haaretz editorial.  Haaretz.  March 28, 2007.

Two Tracks, One Destination, by David Dreilinger and IPF Staff. Israel Policy Forum.  March 29, 2007.

Mideast Leaders Agree to Meet Biweekly, by Helene Cooper.  New York Times. March 27, 2007.

Secretary Rice’s Remarks After Meetings With Prime Minister Olmert and President AbbasU.S. State Department.  March 27, 2007.


ADVOCACY UPDATE: Brit Tzedek and pro-peace forces succeed in modifying Nelson-Ensign letter! Thank those senators who didn't sign on!

Over the past several weeks, hundreds of Brit Tzedek supporters and chapters contacted their senators asking them NOT to sign the Nelson-Ensign letter to Secretary Rice – a letter that originally called for banning U.S. contact with all Palestinian officials, including moderates like President Abbas and Salam Fayyad.   

Due in part to pressure brought to bear by Brit Tzedek, Senators Nelson and Ensign modified their letter to address some of our objections!  While we greatly appreciated these changes, which permitted US contact with President Abbas, the revised letter still banned engagement with other non-Hamas Palestinian moderates in the unity government. At a rare moment of optimism in the Middle East, shutting off contact with moderates is not in the US's or Israel's interests. 

In the end, 79 senators signed the letter.  But despite the high number, many offices waited a considerable amount of time before signing and our activism has started a fresh debate over what it means to be pro-Israel in the U.S. Senate. 

If your Senator(s) is one of the 21 who did NOT sign, please call or email them to say thank you for NOT signing the Nelson-Ensign letter. 

Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 (just ask for your senator)
Email contact information

Non-signers to be thanked:

CA: Feinstein  (D)
IN: Lugar (R)
MA: Kennedy (D), Kerry (D)
MO: McCaskill (D)
NE: Hagel (R)
NH: Gregg (R), Sununu (R)
NM: Bingaman (D), Domenici (R)
OH: Voinovich (R)
SD: Johnson (D) [out due to illness]

TN
: Alexander (R)
UT: Hatch (R)
VT: Sanders (I), Leahy (D)
VA: Warner (R), Webb (D)
WV: Byrd (D)

WY
: Enzi (R), Thomas (R) 

Press coverage:


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206

info@btvshalom.org
www.btvshalom.org


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