Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) commends Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his staff for acknowledging the important role that Israel’s civil society and particularly Israeli progressive non-profit organizations play in Israeli society.
At his daily press briefing yesterday, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner was asked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scandalous decision Tuesday to cancel a planned meeting with Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel because of Gabriel’s meeting with representatives of three progressive Israeli nonprofits that regularly criticize Israeli government policies. The three organizations are Peace Now (APN’s Israeli sister-organization), Breaking the Silence, and B’Tselem.
Replying to the question about the scandal that erupted following Netanyahu’s decision to shun Gabriel, Toner said that while not passing judgement on “who the Prime Minister of Israel decides to meet with,” the US “would regard it as important that any functioning civil society has these types of groups and diverse viewpoints. It’s a vital part of any democracy.”
APN strongly agrees with the State Department’s statement regarding the vital role that dissenting Israeli organizations play as a part of Israel’s democracy and as a check on Israeli government policies.
APN is appalled by Netanyahu’s irresponsible attitude toward Israel’s relationship with Germany, Israel’s chief European ally, and is horrified by Netanyahu’s demonizing and delegitimizing civil society organizations that are part and parcel of Israel’s social fabric. We endorse Peace Now’s statement: “It seems that for Netanyahu, foreign relations amount to personal and economic interests, combined with petty politics (…) In the absence of any real policy on the part of the Prime Minister, we will continue to act to ensure our future here, through resistance to occupation and through advancing a two-state solution.”