J Street: Will Trump facilitate annexation or a two-state solution?

“The Trump administration faces this fundamental choice. Is it going to be an administration that is a partner and facilitator of the creeping annexation of the West Bank."

By
February 14, 2017 20:42
3 minute read.

J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami discusses David Friedman and Trump policy on Israel (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami discusses David Friedman and Trump policy on Israel (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump has to choose between creeping annexation or a final status agreement that leads to a Palestinian state, J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami told Israeli journalists in Washington on Tuesday morning.

“The Trump administration faces this fundamental choice. Is it going to be an administration that is a partner and facilitator of the creeping annexation of the West Bank in the version of a one-state reality?” Ben-Ami said. “Or is it an administration that is in line with the traditional bi-partisan desire to resolve this conflict [through the creation] of a Palestinian state?”

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


He spoke in advance of both Wednesday’s much touted meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump as well as Thursday's hearing by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the appointment of David Friedman as US Ambassador to Israel.

Netanyahu is under pressure from right-wing Israeli politicians to seek support from Trump in that meeting to annex some, if not all, of Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli military and civilian control.

Both events are expected to clarify a series of conflicting messages from the Trump administration with regard to US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict expressed by the diametrically opposite views of US Secretary of State James Mattis, who opposes settlement activity, and Friedman, who supports it.

“Trump has to make a choice. Is he going to listen to the voices whispering in his ear, from the David Friedman world or is he going to listen to the voices whispering in his ear from the James Mattis’ world,” Ben-Ami said.

J Street is in the midst of a campaign to block the nomination of Friedman, whose views in support of the settlements are diametrically opposite to those of J Street, which favors a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



Friedman in the past has also referred to J Street as kapos, in reference to the Jews in concentration camps who helped the Germans.

“We would urge the president and the senate to use [Friedman’s confirmation hearing] as a moment to clarify what voice is the president planning to listen to,” Ben- Ami said.

In addition, he said, Friedman’s temperament is suited to a post “where diplomacy is required and not flame throwing.”

It remains a possibility, he said, that Trump could be serious about wanting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would therefore not support the settlement enterprise as right-wing Israelis hoped he would.

It could be “a very surprising moment when folks who have been expecting him to be the green light for settlements and annexation see that he was serious when he said he wants to explore making a deal,” Ben-Ami said.

On the issue on relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Ben-Ami said that such a move should wait until the establishment of a two-state solution in which Jerusalem would be the capitol for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Moving it prematurely could lead to an outbreak of violence and kill any chance of renewing a peace process, he warned.

He also spoke of his concern that the growing rift between Israeli and American Jews presents a strategic problem for Israel, particularly now that Trump is president.

“I think it is very important for Israelis to understand that 75% of Jewish Americans did not support Donald Trump and they actually disapprove of the job he is doing as president,” Ben-Ami said.

Since Trump’s January 20th inauguration, he said, J Street has expanded its policy agenda to also include opposition to Trump’s anti-immigration policies.

“The treatment of the refugees from Muslim countries resonates with Jewish Americans because nearly every Jewish American has a refugee ancestor,” Ben-Ami said.

Related Content

A member of Palestinian security forces gestures as a fuel tanker arrives at Kerem Shalom crossing
August 16, 2018
Israel reopens Gaza’s Kerem Shalom crossing: A premature move?

By TERRANCE J. MINTNER/THE MEDIA LINE