Partners Urges President Obama to Make Peace in Israel

March 21, 2016
Dear President Obama and Secretary Kerry:

Partners for Progressive Israel, a progressive group that supports Israel but is critical of its current direction, has been among the most loyal supporters of your policies in the Middle East.  We applauded your heroic efforts to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians together for talks, talks that failed because of obstruction on the Israeli side, where a government that is for the most part hostile to a two-state outcome is in power.  And we are most grateful for your strong insistence, despite strong opposition both foreign and domestic, on pursuing the Iran agreement that has successfully placed Iran’s nuclear program under international control.  PPI supported that arrangement and deplored Mr. Netanyahu’s inability to see that the Iran agreement is clearly in Israel’s own interest.  We believe the Iran agreement will stand as one of the enduring foreign policy achievements of your administration, and it burnishes the legacy of your presidency.

We urge you Mr. President, not to stand on your laurels; in the short time that remains to your administration there is still much that you can do to lay down the parameters for a necessary and urgent peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The basic components of that peace have long been known.  They go back to the informal Geneva Accord of 2003 and the Clinton parameters of 2000.  You and Secretary Kerry were said to be at the point of publishing them as Administration guidelines in 2014.  We need not recall them all here; but the occupation must end and Israel must withdraw to its June 1967 frontiers with the exception of mutually agreed land swaps.  Jerusalem must be shared as the capital of two states, and the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state in accordance with UNGAR 181 in 1947 and their Right of Return must be limited to the new and independent Palestine to be created.

These principles have received virtually universal international agreement.  France has urged them on the two sides by means of calls for an international conference and a new United Nations Resolution.  The United States should endorse these initiatives, negotiate wording with France and other sponsors, and join in what we hope would be a unanimous United Nations Resolution that would challenge the two sides.  And we urge you to define and publish American guidelines for a final-status agreement that will command the assent of fair-minded persons in Israel, Palestine, and the world.

You have done so much Mr. President, in the fields of environmental protection and climate change, economic stimulus, the reduction of unemployment, humane treatment of immigrants, and countless other fields, not to mention your monumental achievement in the matter of health care.  In the face of these successes the failure of your administration, despite your initiatives, to have an impact on the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort remains a glaring omission.  Let your final legacy be to challenge the two sides and put American diplomacy firmly behind an international effort to forge a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Sincerely yours,

Harold M. Shapiro
Co-President, Partners for Progressive Israel
Judy Wall
Co-President, Partners for Progressive Israel
Leonard Grob
Vice President, Partners for Progressive Israel
Paul Scham
Vice President, Partners for Progressive Israel
Professor Ayala Emmett
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
Shirley Rausher
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
Lilly Rivlin
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
Phyllis Bernstein
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
David Abraham
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
Sam Fleischacker
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
Irwin Wall
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
Peter Eisenstadt
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
Gil Kulick
Board Member, Partners for Progressive Israel
 Don Morris
Carolyn T. Oppenheim  Irene Tucker
Hasia Diner Yonathan Shapir
Ivan Frank  Jonathan W. Malino
Gerald Serotta  Robert Jennings
Patricia Shaw El-Zatmah Daniel P Resnick
Martha Kransdorf Alan Feldman
Merle Wolofsky David Lelyveld
Chaim Shimshowitz Efrat Levy
Lisa Stone Achebe Powell
Laura Mahalel Ivan Huber