Washington/Jerusalem - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today called on the Obama Administration and the international community to take urgent action to induce the Netanyahu government to abandon its decision to pursue massive new settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. APN's call comes on the heels of reports of a decision of the Netanyahu government to respond to yesterday's action at the United Nations by approving thousands of new settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and by expediting plans to build the massive new settlement of E-1 - a settlement that, if constructed, would make the implementation of a viable two-state exponentially more difficult, if not impossible.
Speaking from Jerusalem, APN President and CEO Debra DeLee stated:
"Yesterday at the United Nations, Ambassador Susan Rice and representatives of nations from around the world - including the Ambassador of Israel - spoke of their respective countries' steadfast commitment to the two-state solution. Today's decisions by the Israeli government prove the hollowness of the Israeli ambassador's words, and put to the test the sincerity of the words of all those other representatives to the UN. Let no one be confused: failing this test could deal the death blow to the two-state solution for the foreseeable future, ushering in an era of violence and bloodshed and depriving Israelis of the very possibility of a stable, secure, Jewish democratic state.
"For too long the international community has proven itself unable or unwilling to induce successive Israeli governments to curb their seemingly insatiable appetites for settlements. Just as this failure was one of the primary factors driving the Palestinian decision to appeal to the United Nations yesterday, Israeli settlement policies were clearly one of the driving factors behind the strong support the Palestinians' initiative obtained from nations spanning the globe.
"The announced Israeli government plans to build thousands of new settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to expedite plans for E-1, are an effort by the Netanyahu government to exploit yesterday's UN action to promote what has been its de facto policy goal from the start: permanently closing the door on the possibility of any two-state solution. Already many Israelis and Palestinians believe that, due to settlements, a two-state solution is impossible, and have shifted their focus to one-state fantasies. This trend is only empowering extremists, among both Israelis and Palestinians - political and religious zealots who are passionately committed to zero-sum outcomes, a Palestinian state from the river to the sea, or a Jewish state in the entire biblical land of Eretz Yisrael. Such extremists are perfectly willing to see lives on both sides sacrificed in the service of their goal, and to see their fight for 100% of the land embroil the entire region in endless and escalating conflict.
"Now the tipping point is in sight - the point after which the two-state solution will be so difficult to implement on the ground as to be viewed as impossible for the foreseeable future. This latest decision indicates the Netanyahu government's determination to tip the scales as soon as possible, and its brash conviction that the Obama Administration and the international community are powerless to stop it. The Obama Administration and the international community must act urgently and decisively to show Netanyahu that this assessment is wrong; failing this, the commitment to the two-state solution so powerfully articulated yesterday by Ambassador Rice and other UN Representatives will be proven as hollow as that of the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations."