Israel is not committed to a two-state solution, and the premier Jewish American lobby group must stop falsely promoting this talking point in Washington, Israeli right-wing politicians and settlers said on Monday.
They opened a campaign against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and by default the Israeli government, to pressure both entities to disavow the two-state solution.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan sent a letter to AIPAC about the matter, and as part of the campaign, the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus followed suit.
The AIPAC website “seems to imply that Israel is committed to a two-state solution, and that the United States takes this position as well,” Dagan wrote.
“Please note this assumption has no basis in fact,” he added.
The Knesset Caucus added to the campaign, telling AIPAC: “The ruling party, the Likud, in 2002 voted and presented an official policy statement rejecting the two-state notion, and this policy remains in place.”
In his letter, Dagan wrote: “I am astounded as to why such a great, meaningful organization as AIPAC, whose raison d’etre is pro-Israel advocacy in the United States, would represent the positions of the State of Israel (and of the United States) so inaccurately before senior government officials, senators and congressmen, and the general pro-Israel public. The position that AIPAC is representing as that of the State of Israel – in the AIPAC mission statement and in the AIPAC talking points inter alia – not only fails to represent Israel properly, it is detrimental to the efforts to achieve dialogue in the Middle East.”
Dagan based his argument on the absence of any mention of a twostate resolution to the conflict in the government of Israel’s guidelines posted on the Prime Minister’s Office Hebrew website. The guidelines speak only generally of Israel’s commitment to pursue peace with its neighbors in a way that preserves the country’s strategic, security and historical interests. The English version specifies that this peace process includes the Palestinians.
But neither of the guidelines details how this peace should be pursued or what its broad-based parameters are.
“Moreover, the two-state proposal is opposed by the majority of the ministers of the Israeli government, most of the ruling government coalition and most importantly by the broad spectrum of the citizens of Israel,” the Knesset Land of Israel Caucus added.
Dagan also noted that under the Obama administration, a February 2015 National Security Strategy report spoke of America’s commitment to a two-state solution, but the one posted on the website in December did not.
Trump has said he would support a two-state solution only if agreed to by both sides.
AIPAC must therefore update its talking points to reflect the position of both the Israeli and the US governments, Dagan said.
The Knesset Land of Israel Caucus did not mention that under former Likud prime minister Ariel Sharon, the government voted to support the US-backed road map that outlined steps to the creation of a two-state solution.
Nor did they reference Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s endorsement in 2009 of a two-state resolution to the conflict.
In a significant policy speech at Bar-Ilan University he said: “In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor’s security and existence.”
The Palestinians and Netanyahu’s opponents at home and abroad have often said in spite of this statement, he opposes a two-state solution.
Still, Netanyahu has never rescinded this policy statement and has continued to refer to it.
Dagan’s office said it is the guidelines, and not the Bar-Ilan speech or votes by past governments, that determine the Israeli government’s policy in 2017.
Former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker disagreed. He said the guidelines are deliberately vague so as to leave “the government the latitude to determine how this [a peace process] is to be done and what sort of solution it will ultimately agree to.”
“What appears on a website is purely descriptive” and has “absolutely no legal or political significance,” he added.
Netanyahu’s words, in contrast, “do represent the position of the State of Israel,” said Baker, who now heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
However, he cautioned that while Israel has obliged to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, it has not sworn to follow only one proscribed solution.
None of the statements made by Netanyahu or Sharon accept the idea of a Palestinian state as defined by the Europeans or the Obama administration.
They “refer to the need to negotiate the nature of such a state and the limitations that will be imposed on it so that it will not become a security, political or demographic threat to Israel,” Baker said.
AIPAC told The Jerusalem Post it had no response to Dagan’s letter.
Dagan’s office on Monday distributed statements by right-wing politicians in support of this stance, including by Bayit Yehudi faction head Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Likud MK Yehudah Glick, who latter spoke about the matter in the Knesset plenum.
Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz said: “The State of Israel does not support the establishment of a terrorist state in the heart of the country.”
Land of Israel Caucus co-chairs Likud MK Yoav Kisch and Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich told AIPAC: “The two-state proposal is opposed by the majority of the ministers of the Israeli government, most of the ruling government coalition and most importantly by the broad spectrum of the citizens of Israel.
“Harsh lessons of the past regarding land concessions have demonstrated that creating the groundwork for a terrorist, fundamentalist, Muslim state in the heart of the Land of Israel is dangerous and lethal to the security of Israel.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Army Radio of her long-held stance against a Palestinian state.
South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yochai Damri called on AIPAC to let the Trump administration know his constituents would not support any peace plan that called for territorial concession.
“The leaders of AIPAC must stand at this time at Israel’s side and at the settlement movement’s side prior to the announcement of Trump’s peace plan,” he said. “The citizens of the State of Israel have had enough of fruitless political initiatives for the past 25 years that have done nothing but fan the fire of terrorism and cause more casualties, more threats and strengthen Hamas and Iranian terrorism on the Gaza border.”
The campaign against the two-state solution coincided with AIPAC’s major policy conference in Washington D.C., that featured American and Israeli politicians including Vice President Mike Pence on Monday night and Netanyahu on Tuesday.
It falls in line with other initiatives by Israeli right-wing politicians and settlers to pressure Netanyahu to take steps to strengthen Israel’s hold on Area C of the West Bank, including the application of sovereignty.
But it was sparked by comments made Sunday night by AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr who helped open the policy conference by stating, “We must all work .. toward that future, two states for two peoples: one Jewish with secure and defensible borders and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future.”