Consistent with APN's longstanding support for peace and a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Americans for Peace Now today called on the Obama Administration and the international community to support the Palestinians' bid to upgrade their status at the UN to that of non-member observer state.
APN called on the Obama Administration, Israel, and the international community to use this development as a springboard to launch a political process that can yield tangible and constructive results immediately. APN President and CEO Debra DeLee stated:
"In the wake of the latest Gaza War, we believe the international community, led by the Obama Administration, must take urgent action to restore faith in a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to strengthen those Israelis and Palestinians, like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who are standing firmly with such a solution. Supporting Abbas' UN effort is a first step to doing just that. This effort is explicitly predicated on support for Israeli-Palestinian peace based on parameters long-endorsed by the U.S. and governments around the world, and once again demonstrates Abbas' laudable determination to achieve progress through non-violent means.
"All nations that support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should endorse this UN initiative. All nations, including the United States and Israel, should likewise refrain from and reject punitive measures against the Palestinians in the wake of this initiative, including efforts by Israel or any other party to exploit this initiative as a pretext for actions that further erode the possibility of peace.
"Rather than becoming a focus of recriminations, the adoption by the UN General Assembly of this initiative - and the subsequent upgrading of the Palestinian presence at the UN - should be used as a springboard to immediately launch a credible, internationally-backed political process that furthers a clear political goal - the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state, with comprehensive security arrangements - in the near term. Only in this way can new life be breathed into negotiations and only in this way can future UN crises and further violence related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be averted.
"Actions by the UN won't end the occupation or resolve permanent status issues such as borders, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem. Only negotiations can achieve those goals. However, developments on the ground are every day eroding the very possibility of achieving the two-state solution and emboldening extremists on both sides. The world's passivity in the face of these developments, and its tacit acquiescence to continued hostilities between and among the parties, has only bolstered those who are eager to close the door, once-and-for-all, on any possibility of coexistence in the region with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and with security.
"The decision of the Palestinians to once again take their case to the UN does not signal that they are 'going unilateral' or rejecting peace. Rather, it reflects the Palestinians' understandable conviction that, under present circumstances, negotiations will never end the occupation or deliver statehood. It also reflects their recognition that the situation is nearing a tipping point - the point at which developments on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in particular expansion of settlements and settlement-related infrastructure, will make the two-state solution unworkable.
"This initiative is thus a wholly legitimate, if desperate and risky, effort to re-build a modicum of faith in the prospect that negotiations will achieve their ostensible goal - a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - before unilateral actions on the ground make such a solution impossible."
APN's principles on the issue of the Palestinians' UN efforts can be read here. APN is the sister organization of Shalom Achshav, Israel's preeminent peace movement. APN's mission is to educate and persuade the American public and its leadership to support and adopt policies that will lead to comprehensive, durable, Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace, based on a two-state solution, guaranteeing both peoples security, and consistent with U.S. national interests. We also work to ensure Israel's future and the viability of Israel's democracy and Jewish character through education, activism and advocacy in the United States, and by mobilizing American support for Shalom Achshav.