Americans for Peace Now (APN) today welcomed the EU's decision to differentiate between Israel and the occupied territories in its foreign relations, and condemned anticipated new Israeli settlement approvals that came to light today.
APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented:
"We commend the EU for its new policy of definitively differentiating between Israel and the occupied territories. This new EU policy, in its essence, is the most genuinely pro-Israel position possible. It distinguishes Israel the democracy from Israel the occupier. It distinguishes democracy from the occupation which most Israelis resent and want to bring to an end. In addition, the EU's policy can bolster the ongoing efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry to achieve a breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian peace track.
"Today, Secretary of State Kerry is engaged in a serious effort to save the two-state solution, before it is too late. He is in a race with extremists on both sides - Israelis and Palestinians who prefer a zero-sum, one-state outcome, even if it embroils their peoples in permanent violence and suffering. The EU's decision to draw a clear line between Israel and the occupied territories represents an important action in support of his effort. It sends Israelis an unequivocal message that their future as a nation depends on whether their leaders choose settlements or peace. It also sends Palestinians a message that, if their leaders decide to return to the negotiating table, the world will view the starting point for negotiations as the 1967 lines, irrespective of facts on the ground established unilaterally by Israel with settlement construction.
"At the same time, we strongly condemn the Israeli decision to go forward tomorrow with the consideration and likely approval of more than 1000 new settlement units. The decision to go forward with these approvals signals the Israeli people, Secretary Kerry, and the international community that Israel's leaders value settlements over peace and that they believe that there is no political, diplomatic, or economic price to undermining the two-state solution.
"Indeed, for decades, pro-'Greater Israel' elements within the Israeli government have operated under the dangerous delusion that Israel can - quietly, gradually, and with no lasting ill effects - dispossess the Palestinians of all or most of the land occupied in the 1967 war. The result today is clear: the two-state solution is in jeopardy, putting at urgent risk Israel's future as both a democracy and a state with a Jewish character. The Israeli government's persistent failure to pursue policies that are consistent with an intention to end the occupation and achieve peace with the Palestinians is increasing Israel's isolation and fueling international efforts to boycott and sanction Israel itself, not only its presence in the West Bank.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu and his coalition partners should heed the wake-up call from Israel's friends in Europe. If they fail to do so, additional unwelcome policies will almost certainly follow, global boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts will be strengthened, and Israel's future will be in doubt. The settlement enterprise continues to sow the seeds of Israel's destruction as a democracy and a Jewish state. By seizing the opportunity presented by the Kerry peace initiative, and working in tandem with the international community, Netanyahu can lead Israel off the current self-destructive path, back to the long-abandoned path of peace."
APN is the sister organization of Shalom Achshav, Israel's preeminent peace movement. Its 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.