Brit Tzedek Welcomes Israeli Prime Minister’s Endorsement of Two-States and Urges Immediate Resumption of Negotiations, Adherence to all Past Agreements

CHICAGO--Diane Balser, executive director of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the country's largest and most vibrant Jewish grassroots peace movement, issued the following statement in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address at Bar-Ilan University last night.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu's recognition today of the goal of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is a welcome development that essentially brings him in line with the framework for U.S. and Israeli policy on resolving the conflict for the past fifteen years. Baruch haba, Mr. Prime Minister.  

We are in full agreement that a future Palestinian state can, under no circumstances, be allowed to pose a military threat to Israel and, that security guarantees and protocols to ensure Israel's security must be an integral part of any final settlement.  Such a configuration is not only attainable, but offers Israel's best and likely only chance of maintaining its long-term viability as both the Jewish national homeland and a democracy.

It did not escape notice, however, that while the Prime Minister called for immediate resumptions of negotiations without preconditions, the body of his speech was dedicated to outlining just such a set of preconditions on some of the conflict's most contentious issues. Prime Minister Netanyahu's statements today on continued settlement expansion, the status of refugees and Jerusalem, and the future Palestinian state's control over its own borders complicate efforts to renew substantive negotiations by attempting to prejudge their outcome. 
Israel is undeniably entitled to state its opening positions, but it is high time for Israeli and Palestinian leaders alike to put aside their high-stakes rhetorical acrobatics and to get on with the hard work of good faith negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues.  The terms of preexisting agreements are clear -- a complete freeze of Israeli settlement expansion, acknowledgement of both states' right to exist within secure and recognized boundaries and an end to Palestinian incitement and violence, chief among them -- and adherence to them would comprise a sound framework for the immediate resumption of a real and substantive peace process.

President Barack Obama's commitment to renewed U.S. leadership in resolving the conflict has created an historic opportunity for both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to break the current stalemate and deliver the peace and security the majority of both peoples desire and deserve. Effective US leadership will require that President Obama continue to make clear his expectations that both sides will abide by all preexisting agreements and by any and all agreements that emerge from future negotiations. The vast majority of American Jews and of all pro-Israel Americans will stand behind President Obama and all others who commit to actively pursue a negotiated end to this conflict."

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

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