One of the most unusual aspects of the conflict in Israel is the relative power American Jewry can have in the making and unmaking of the current circumstances in the Middle East.
The fact that the US is influential in world politics is pretty obvious (and under the current ‘regime’, arguably misguided). Be it economics or culture, choice or coercion – people listen to Uncle Sam.
It is debateable to what degree the Jewish vote is a stimulus to decision making in the power corridors and such speculations often descend into fallacy and hate-mongering. But there is no doubt the lobby carries a profile in the Israeli psyche and the navigation of its governments’ policies. A piquant example is Netanyahu, groomed and feted on American beef for long while, who manages to marry macho native tongue wagging with capitol-hill power-speak. And though no one knows how much money exactly was channelled into the territories since the mid Seventies, it is the kind of money that puts people on the moon. The US government sends a staggering sum of dollars to Israel every year, out of which, Aid money allocated/utilised to/for the settlements is in the ballpark figure of half a billion dollar every year. Private money adds considerable sums.
But this kind of power can work both ways: “Blow and you can extinguish a fire. Blow and you can make a fire.”
So here is an opportunity to do make a difference:
As concerned American Jews united in our unwavering support for Israel, we share your continuing vision of a just and secure resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Israel’s best option for long-term stability and security is two democratic states living securely side by side.
What transpires in the months following the Gaza withdrawal will determine the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Therefore, we call on you to:
- Immediately appoint a well-known senior statesman as an envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to remain on the ground before, during and in the months following the withdrawal.
- Provide the envoy with a team of monitors to enable independent corroboration of claims by both sides about the steps taken or not taken to implement and coordinate agreements.
The two sides remain far apart in their understanding of their obligations and the necessary coordination of the Israeli withdrawal. The immediate future of international ports of entry, crossings into Israel of goods and people, evacuated settler houses, and much more is still undecided or in dispute.
A prestigious high-level envoy, present in the region on a daily basis, is needed to help both sides reach agreement on the large and small details that must be coordinated to ensure a smooth and successful transition.
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