Americans for Peace Now (APN) is alarmed by President-elect Donald Trump's choice of David Friedman to be the United States' next ambassador to Israel. Friedman's choice sends an alarming message about the Trump administration's role in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Following statements by aides to President-elect Donald Trump regarding his wish to move America’s Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Americans for Peace Now (APN) is urging Trump and members of his transition team to avoid controversial, inflammatory statements on this sensitive foreign policy question.
Israel’s settlement “Legalization Bill”: What it is and what it means
Israel’s so-called “Legalization Bill” (aka “Regulation Bill” or “Regularization Bill”) is designed to retroactively legalize Israeli civilian construction in the West Bank (outposts and parts of recognized settlements) built on privately-owned Palestinian land, in violation of Israeli law.
The bill comes in reaction to years of legal efforts, led by Shalom Achshav (the Israeli Peace Now movement) to compel the Government of Israel to meet its obligation to respect and impose the rule of law by removing construction by settlers that violates Israel’s own laws. For years, the government of Israel has resisted these efforts, dragging out cases in courts with repeated requests for delays, allowing illegal construction to grow further.
On December 4, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at Brookings’ Saban Forum. He was interviewed by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Kerry’s comments included sharp criticism of the Israeli government’s failure to pursue a two-state peace settlement with the Palestinians. The entire interview can be found here. Following are Kerry’s comments relating to Israel.
So what we have is an opportunity to redefine the Middle East, to redefine the region to meet the security needs of Israel and the security needs of the rest of the region. Now, I can talk about that ad infinitum. I’ve spent four years now in the most intensive effort I think – I don’t think – I asked my staff to go back and read the record. I have talked to Bibi Netanyahu more than 375 times in this term. That’s only the public recording, because I was in the habit of picking up the phone and calling him at home or calling him here and there and just getting him eating. I’ve talked to him in those public transactions more than 130 hours. My wife accused me of having talked to him more than I’ve talked to her in these four years.
Jewish and Arab students celebrated “Tolerance Day” when we visited Bridge Over the Wadi, the bilingual elementary school in the Israeli Arab town of Kufr Kara. This extraordinary school is one of a handful statewide, in which Jewish and Arab kids study and socialize in Hebrew and Arabic, learn about each other’s culture and narrative, and build common ground.
“How is ‘Tolerance Day’ different from any other day here,” I asked the school’s principal, Dr. Hassan Aghbaria. “That’s a good point,” he laughed, “we teach and experience tolerance every day, year round.”
Dr. Aghbaria’s school is one of six bilingual schools throughout Israel, run by Hand in Hand, the Center for Jewish-Arab education in Israel. The one in Kufr Kara is the only place in Israel where Jewish parents take their children, every day, to a school in an Arab community.
To understand how unusual these schools are, one must realize how segregated Israel’s school system is, and how segregated Israeli society is. Jewish and Arab students attend separate schools, where separate curricula are taught. Jewish and Arab citizens hardly socialize. They hardly get together. “What we have in this school is a virtual environment. Everything outside is segregated, while everything inside our school is integrated,” Principal Aghbaria told participants in APN’s Israel study tour who visited his school mid-November. The challenge, he said, is to extend this environment beyond the school, beyond Kufr Kara, and beyond the five elementary school years that students attend.
The New York Times today published the following letter by APN's Chair of the Board Jim Klutznick and its President and CEO Debra DeLee:
To the Editor:
“Israel Legalizes Outposts in the West Bank, Step by Quiet Step” (front page, Aug. 31) highlights a central truth about illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank: Extremist settlers are not rogue actors. Rather, they work hand in glove with the Israeli government in flouting Israel’s own laws in order to build more settlements.
Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), Israel’s preeminent peace movement, in cooperation with other Israeli civil society organizations, today launched a new initiative demanding a referendum on the future of Israel’s rule over the West Bank and on peace with the Palestinians.
Americans for Peace Now, the U.S. sister organization of Shalom Achshav, supports the initiative. APN calls on all Americans who care about Israel’s future to support the call for a referendum on the occupation, which is now entering its fiftieth year.
Israel’s Peace Now movement today issued the following press release, after scoring a major victory in its fight against Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.
High Court Orders Evacuation of 17 Structures in The Illegal Outpost of Derech Ha'Avot
Earlier today the High Court of Justice ruled on a petition submitted by Peace Now and by Palestinian landowners on the illegal outpost of Derech Ha'Avot. In its verdict, the High Court demanded that the State will evacuate 17 structures in the illegal outpost, located near Bethlehem. The court strongly criticized the State, which tried to retract its previous commitments, and over and over again postponed the enforcement of the law with regards to illegal construction in the outpost while raising a variety of contradicting excuses. The High Court ordered that the evacuation of the structures and fulfilment of the demolition order will be executed within 18 months (by March 2018), and ordered the State to pay high legal expenses.