J Street 'deeply alarmed' by annexation threat after Netanyahu-Gantz deal

Other major Jewish organizations from both sides of the political spectrum commended the two leaders for coming together, ending over a year of political stalemate in Israel.

Vehicles drive along a road in the Jordan Valley  (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
Vehicles drive along a road in the Jordan Valley
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Progressive Jewish group, J Street, on Monday slammed the agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, which has provided an opportunity to start discussing a possible annexation of the Jordan Valley and application of Israeli law to other settlements in the West Bank as early as July 1. Media reports indicated that Gantz would have no veto power over such a move.
"J Street is deeply alarmed that, in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Netanyahu has formed a new Israeli government that appears able and determined to carry out unilateral annexation of occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank, with the approval of the Trump administration, within just months," the statement reads.
"Any annexation would be carried out with the deliberate intention of preventing the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, J Street added. "It would be disastrous for Israel's interests, as well as a gross violation of Palestinian rights."
The progressive group continued with its sharp criticism, writing that it is "outrageous that the Israeli government and the Trump administration are contemplating such destructive measures even as Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, and people around the world are preoccupied with the COVID-19 emergency. Before they cross this glaring redline, they must know that their actions will have major, lasting ramifications."
Other major Jewish organizations from both sides of the political spectrum commended the two leaders for coming together, ending over a year of political stalemate in Israel.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) welcomed the agreement to form a unity government. "We congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu and Lt. Gen. Gantz for their significant achievement in forging a broad-based coalition government. Israel has once again demonstrated the resiliency and vibrancy of the only genuine democracy in the region," AIPAC said in a statement.    
"We look forward to further strengthening the relationship between the US and Israel as these two allies confront the challenges in the region and advance our mutual security, health, and economic interests," AIPAC added.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed the agreement as well. "With the political process now concluded and a government in place, the Jewish State can focus fully on the urgent work of combating the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing security challenges it faces. We look forward to working with the new government to strengthen the US-Israel special relationship and the bonds between Israel and the American Jewish community," said Arthur Stark, Chairman, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin issued a statement stating that in a time of crisis, the two political leaders put the country first. "Once again, Israel's vibrant democracy has resulted in a diverse coalition. Under the terms of the agreement, Netanyahu will remain prime minister for 18 months. After that, Gantz is set to succeed him."
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) applauded "the vision and pragmatism" of the two leaders, "forging a unity government, in the spirit of democratic compromise, to guide the country through the coronavirus crisis and confront strategic challenges."
Israel Policy Forum welcomed the agreement but warned from annexation. "We are disappointed that Benny Gantz has agreed to this step as a condition for forming a unity government, not least because it is a departure from his previous statements and stances on the subject of West Bank annexation," the statement reads.
"We hope that the new Israeli government closely examines the potential consequences of unilateral annexation," IPF added. "As Israel's year of political instability now comes to a close, we urge Israel's leaders not to take any steps that may put its future stability at risk."
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) said they are heartened that Israel has a new government. "We wish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and MK Benny Gantz's success in dealing with the coronavirus crisis and offer our partnership toward a better future for all."
“Now is a time for healing in every way,” the statement reads. “We also call on this new government to refrain from unilateral actions that could potentially hinder or thwart the renewal of the peace process in the short and long term, especially unilateral annexation.”