Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a rough meeting in the Oval Office yesterday.
President Obama chided him for Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Right after the meeting, administration officials provided a glance into what Netanyahu probably heard from Obama. New settlement activity “will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians, but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Netanyahu was fuming as he left the White House for New York, where he told Israeli reporters who he thinks is responsible for the rocky meeting with President Obama.
Who? Peace Now.
Yes, you heard right. Netanyahu accused Israel’s preeminent peace movement, our Israeli sister-organization, of wrecking his meeting with Obama. And why? Because Peace Now publicized the fact that his government approved a new Israeli settlement project on the very sensitive, narrow corridor that connects East Jerusalem to Bethlehem. If implemented, this project would deny contiguity between the southern and northern parts of the West Bank, between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem, and therefore may very well be a death-blow to the two-state solution.
Faced with criticism from Israel’s staunchest ally, Netanyahu astonishingly accused Peace Now of “lack of national responsibility.”
On the eve of Yom Kippur, this prime minister, who escalates Israel’s international isolation by building more and more settlements, who refuses to come up with any diplomatic initiative to advance Israel toward peace, who humiliates and intentionally weakens the best Palestinian partner Israel has ever had for peace, who helped torpedo President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace, is now accusing Peace Now of “national irresponsibility.”
Mr. Prime Minister, on this Yom Kippur, when you hold your fist to your chest to atone for the past year’s misdeeds, how about adding another couple of small heart-beatings for vilifying Peace Now, the heartbeat of Israel’s national conscience, the moral compass of Israelis who deeply care about the national security of a state that strives to survive as both a Jewish homeland and a democracy.
Peace Now, an organization that brings together loyal, Zionist, patriotic, peace-seeking Israelis, provides information on a regular basis to the Israeli and international public regarding construction plans in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in order to safeguard the two-state solution.
Netanyahu doesn’t appreciate it. But I know that you do.
At such moments, when Peace Now is under attack from the prime minister of Israel, we need your support more than ever before.