Brit Tzedek Calls on Israel’s New Government to Make Peace Resolution Top Priority

CHICAGO -- Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's executive director, Diane Balser, issued the following statement in response to the official formation of Israel's governing coalition today.

"We welcome the news today that a new Israeli government has been formed with the hope that, with the protracted transition behind them, Israel's leaders will now focus on  making the pursuit of peace an immediate priority.

We do not kid ourselves about the potential challenges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to form a coalition with the far right elements of Israel's political spectrum poses to the pursuit of a negotiated two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the heart of our concerns are the racist policies espoused by its new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman; the longstanding refusal of Prime Minister Netanyahu to endorse a two-state solution; and reports that Israel Beiteinu and Likud agreed to build in the E-1 area, between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, effectively dividing the continuity of the northern and southern sections of the West Bank.

It is important, however, not to give in to despair, as we cannot know what the new Israeli government will do once in office. No one would have predicted that Menachem Begin would make peace with Egypt, or that Yitzhak Rabin would overcome a lifetime's animosity toward Palestinian nationalism. In fact, each of the last five Prime Ministers, once in office, embraced positions on peacemaking they had rejected during their campaigns. We remain hopeful that the inclusion of the Labor Party in Netanyahu's government may also temper the coalition's more extremist elements. As President Obama said himself of the new government and the prospects for peacemaking, 'It's not easier than it was, but I think that it's just as necessary.'

For our part, we pledge to redouble our efforts, to work through our own democratic processes to mobilize support within our community and among our political leaders for substantive and sustained diplomatic engagement by the Obama administration to resolve Israel's conflict with her neighbors. We will be vigilant in urging our own government to challenge any and all Israeli policies that would lessen the likelihood of reaching a two-state solution or otherwise harm the peace process.

"We bring to this promise a great sense of urgency, as the accruing despair among Israeli and Palestinians takes us further each day from this resolution, which would best serve the national security interests of Israel and the United States alike."

Resources

Taking office, Netanyahu continues balancing act by Uriel Heilman. JTA. March 31, 2009.

Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran—Or I Will by Jeffrey Goldberg. The Atlantic. March 31, 2009.

Netanyahu: Israel is serious about peace by Josh Mitnick. The Christian Science Monitor. March 31, 2009.

Netanyahu seeking Obama meeting in May U.S. trip by Barak Ravid. Haaretz. March 19, 2009.



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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