Dear President Bush:
We call on you to:
* Build on the momentum of the establishment of a national unity government in Israel and successful Palestinian elections to urgently press for an immediate start of final status negotiations leading to a permanent peace agreement between Israel and a newly formed Palestine.
* To this end, invite the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to the White House for initial separate talks, as a first step in reviving the path to direct negotiations.
* Hold both Israelis and Palestinians accountable for implementation of the first steps of the Road Map, under which Israel is to immediately halt all settlement activities and the Palestinians are to take meaningful steps toward halting violence against Israel.
* In line with your comments following the Palestinian elections, and because optimism about a peaceful and prosperous future leads to political moderation, join with the international community in providing the billions of dollars in emergency aid needed for reconstruction of infrastructure and restoration of civil society in the Palestinian territories.
Recent major developments in the Palestinian and Israeli political systems have opened a rare window of opportunity for concrete movement toward peace in the Middle East. Now more than ever, the situation calls for active and strategic U.S. engagement in facilitating the renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
On January 9, 2005, the Palestinian people voted in national elections resulting in the choice of a democratically elected Palestinian leader; they plan to hold parliamentary elections in early spring. The new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly and publicly renounced the use of violence against Israeli civilians, declared that he is a partner for peace, and called for a return to peace negotiations with Israel. Both the occurrence of free and fair Palestinian elections and the victory of the moderate Abbas are major steps forward in reforming Palestinian governing institutions, a requirement of the Quartet's Roadmap to a permanent two-state solution to the conflict.
At the same time, Israel has established a new governing coalition that better reflects the views of the majority of Israelis who support immediate military and civil disengagement from Gaza, as well as the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
As you begin your second administration, I realize you face some difficult challenges, particularly in the Middle East. The challenges presented by the change in Palestinian and Israeli leadership require persistent engagement at the highest level. I urge you to seize this historic opportunity to help bring about a negotiated resolution of the territorial conflict between these two peoples that will lead to security for Israel and the viable Palestinian state for which you have called, alongside of and at peace with Israel.
Along with Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, and more than 24,000 American Jews, I support a peace process that will lead to a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in urgent need of resolution. And, because the on-going conflict contributes to hostility toward the U.S., it endangers Americans at home and abroad. I urge you to act quickly and forcefully to bring the parties back to the negotiating table for final status negotiations.