APN: Ceasefire, Pivot to Diplomacy -- Now!

Americans for Peace Now (APN) today repeated its call for an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.  APN condemned the criticism coming from senior Israeli officials and Knesset members targeting Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama for their efforts to find a way to end the fighting.  Israelis and Palestinians alike urgently need an off-ramp from the destruction, fear, and anger that has taken over their lives. 
 
Secretary Kerry and President Obama deserve credit, not scorn, for acting as true friends of Israel by trying to find such an off-ramp. A mutually-agreed ceasefire will, by definition, have to deliver something to both sides.  Even if some concerns about a ceasefire proposal have merit, publicly suggesting that the Obama Administration has “betrayed” Israel by seeking to craft a ceasefire proposal that takes this fact into account are contemptible, dishonest, and do not serve Israel’s best interests. 
 
APN urges Secretary Kerry and President Obama, as true friends of Israel, to rise above the lazy and often politically-motivated chorus of attacks coming from both inside and outside of Israel.  We urge them to continue to work with the parties and partners in the international community both to expedite an end to the immediate crisis and to pave a clear road back to a diplomatic process that can, once and for all, address the causes that are at the root not only of the current round of violence, but of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
APN strongly supports President Obama's approach toward a ceasefire agreement, as the President communicated to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 27. According to the White House, in their telephone conversation, "the President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority.  The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza."
 
For those who despair of a way forward after close to two months of escalating violence and tensions – in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, in Gaza, and inside Israel – APN urges them to view the current crisis as an opportunity to achieve valuable clarity regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

  • There is no stable status quo possible in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Absent a clear political horizon and credible effort to reach it, the situation on the ground will always get worse. It is now clear that periods of apparent “quiet” mask growing extremism and desperation on both sides, and have only paved the way for escalating paroxysms of violence. The repeated cycle – the “mowing the lawn” approach embraced in Israel, and the apparent “we will force them to deal with us” approach of Hamas – is a disastrous, self-defeating strategy for both sides. 
  • With this latest round of fighting, Palestinians are seeing, once again, that violence and terrorism will not defeat Israel and cannot improve their lives or deliver an end to occupation and statehood.  What it can do is sow fear and anger, including among Israelis who are sympathetic to their cause, and provoke Israel into using its superior military might, to devastating effect.
  • Israelis have seen, once again, that military power cannot bring about the capitulation of the Palestinian people or force them to abandon their aspirations for freedom and self-determination in a state of their own.  Sophisticated missile defense can insulate Israel from some immediate dangers, but Israelis running to bomb shelters know that the suggestion that Israel can live in a state of perpetual conflict, secure under an “iron dome,” is a fantasy.
  • Military flare-ups such as the current one are not the cause of Israeli-Palestinian tensions; they are a symptom of an underlying conflict.  While some may seek to depict them as evidence that the conflict is a zero-sum game, the truth is that this is a political conflict that is still amenable to a political solution. 
  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can and must be solved in a peace agreement that addresses the core needs of both sides, including with respect to security, sovereignty, and national narratives.  It is imperative today to end the fighting and pave a clear road back to a diplomatic process that can, once and for all, address the causes that are at the root not only of the current round of violence, but of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Failing serious re-engagement to achieve such a solution, both sides are today seeing what the future looks like for Israelis and Palestinians alike.  It is a future defined by constant and escalating conflict.  This conflict will increasingly be across not only Israeli-Palestine divides –in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, but also within Israeli society, where growing tribalism, intolerance, and racism are degrading Israeli democracy, civility, and security. 
  • Failing a return to a political process and a good faith commitment to a two-state solution, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to play out in ever-more ugly ways in the international arena.   While much of the world is sympathetic to Israel’s right to self-defense, Israel’s refusal to deal with the core issues of the conflict – and the continued expansion and deepening of the occupation – will mean increasing vilification and isolation of Israel for its policies and actions. While much of the world is sympathetic to the Palestinians’ plight under occupation and their political aspirations for statehood, their cause will increasingly be tainted and discredited as it is exploited by those with extremist, anti-Semitic agendas.  Along the way, innocents on both sides – Israeli and Palestinian alike – will bear the costs.
  • The current crisis can lead easily to a hardening of views on all sides, and to the adopting of zero-sum positions.  Such a hardening will be welcomed by extremists on both sides who have long opposed a political solution and a peace agreement to end the conflict.  Both peoples, and their leaders, must resist this urge to give in to hopelessness, anger and hate.  The current conflict underscores the futility and disastrousness of zero-sum agendas.  It also highlights what has always been the only realistic, viable, solution to the core issues in this conflict: a negotiated two-state outcome.  A realistic agreement can meet the fundamental requirements of each side in order to live as neighbors with peace, security, and sovereign borders – and is the only option that can prevent a perpetual and escalating cycle of mutually-imposed fear, misery, and bloodletting.

Press Release: APN Welcomes US Ceasefire Efforts; Urges Peace Talks

Americans for Peace Now (APN) is horrified by the spiraling death-toll of the war between Israel and Hamas. Having urged a ceasefire for the past two weeks, APN welcomes the Obama administration’s efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire, and urges it to resume diplomatic efforts toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

APN strongly supports Israel’s right for self-defense and its government’s obligation to provide security for its citizens. As a Zionist, Jewish organization and as the sister-organization of the Israeli grassroots movement Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), we fully share the security concerns of the people of Israel and the yearning of Israelis for peace.
 
We mourn the death of Israeli civilians and of Israeli soldiers in the current hostilities. We also mourn the alarmingly spiraling deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip – over 500 so far.

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Americans for Peace Now – like millions of Israelis and Palestinians, and others worldwide – is anxiously hoping that Hamas and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip will follow Israel’s suit and accept the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire agreement. The agreement was proposed Monday night. Israel’s government welcomed it last night, and officially accepted it today at a Cabinet meeting, and held its fire by 9:00 AM local time (2:00 AM Eastern time), but a barrage of rockets from Gaza continued. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad intensified their rocket fire, arguing that Egypt announced the ceasefire without consulting with their leadership. In response, Israel too resumed fire and continued bombing the Gaza Strip.

We hope that Hamas and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip will accept the ceasefire, stop its rocket attacks on Israel and thus prevent further escalation.


Washington, DC – Americans for Peace Now (APN) welcomes news of a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, brokered by Egypt’s government.  APN urges both Israel and Hamas to adhere to the ceasefire and to find ways to prevent future security escalations such as the current one. APN further urges Israelis, Palestinians and the Obama administration to resume diplomatic efforts to return to the negotiating table in order to achieve a viable, lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement with security for both sides.

APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: "Once again, following unnecessary bloodshed, destruction, terror and pain, Israel and Hamas chose diplomacy - the same kind of diplomacy that we at APN have been urging. This devastation, and the long-term impact it has on Israelis and Palestinians alike, can be obviated if both sides choose diplomacy now to pave the road for future Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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Washington, DC –Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, supports Israel's right of self-defense and calls on the government of Israel to avoid harming innocent civilians as it retaliates for the rocket attacks.

Commenting on the current escalation, APN President and CEO Debra DeLee stated:

"The escalating violence on Israel's border with Gaza is deeply alarming. Once again innocent Israelis are being targeted by rockets, while innocent Palestinians are caught in the crossfire as Israel exercises its legitimate right to self-defense.

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Americans for Peace Now (APN) mourns with the Palestinian people the death of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the 16-year-old Palestinian kidnapped and brutally murdered last week in Jerusalem.  APN (once again) condemns the kidnapping and the killing, and sends its condolences to the Abu Khdeir family. APN calls on the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority and all Palestinian factions, to prevent further escalation and further loss of innocent lives.

APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said:

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Press Release: APN Condemns Killing of Palestinian Teen; Calls to Stop Incitement

APN condemns the killing of a Palestinian youth in East Jerusalem.  The government of Israel must act swiftly to investigate the murder and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice.  It remains to be established whether Muhammad Abu-Khdeir (16) was murdered as revenge for the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli youths in the West Bank.  What is absolutely clear is that in the wake of the murder of the three Israeli youths, the Israeli government has fomented a mood of revenge among Israelis, beginning with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s promise of “revenge” for the killings.  That mood began taking concrete form in demonstrations and marches yesterday in Israel, which were marked with calls of “death to Arabs,” as well as attacks against Arabs inside Israel.   

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Press Release: APN Mourns Israeli Teens Murdered in the West Bank

Americans for Peace Now (APN) stands with the people of Israel as it mourns the death of the three Israeli Yeshiva students, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped earlier this month in the West Bank. APN strongly condemns the kidnapping and the killing of the three, and sends its condolences to their families. APN calls on the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority and all Palestinian factions, to prevent further escalation and further loss of innocent lives.

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APN Press Release: Statement on PC (USA) Divestment Decision

Following the decision by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to divest from three U.S. companies whose products, they argue, are used to support Israeli occupation, Americans for Peace Now today issued the following statement:

“Last Friday’s decision of the Presbyterian Church of the United States to divest from three major U.S. companies should serve as a resounding warning for the Israeli government. Increasingly large segments of American society - including ones that care deeply about Israel’s future and invest in it – are losing patience with the nearly five decades-long occupation and with the Israeli government’s refusal to act seriously to bring it to an end. Pressure for decisions like the one taken by PC (USA) is growing, supported by Americans who are neither anti-Israel nor anti-Semitic. It is gaining traction as a direct consequence of Israeli policies that are deepening the occupation to the point of potential irreversibility in the near term, in tandem with the apparent inability or unwillingness of governments around the world to in any meaningful way challenge these policies.

 

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Americans for Peace Now (APN) today expressed deep concern for the safety of the three Israeli Yeshiva students who were kidnapped last Friday in the West Bank. Our hearts and prayers are with the three and with their families. We stand in solidarity with their families and the people of Israel. 

APN is also concerned about the possible repercussions of the crisis and calls on all parties involved to do their utmost to ensure that the three return home unharmed and that their abduction does not further exacerbate an already volatile situation.

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Americans for Peace Now (APN) welcomes the swearing in of a new Palestinian Authority government, headed by current Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and comprised of apolitical technocrats.

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