J Street U speakers urge two-state solution to Israel-Palestine conflict
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 01:03
American Task Force on Palestine senior fellow Hussein Ibish and Americans for Peace Now director of policy and government relations Lara Friedman, spoke yesterday during in a discussion hosted by the Tufts chapter of J Street U, held to explain the group’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The talk, titled “Obama, Israel, and Palestine: The Next Four Years,” was attended by around 45 students as well as University President Anthony Monaco, who sat in the front row of Pearson 106.
Both speakers agreed that America ought to pursue this issue purely from the point of view of its own national interests, as they believe a two-state solution is necessary to both the nation’s security and to its position as a global leader. While Friedman argued that the United States’ billions of dollars in military aid to Israel make us a party to the conflict, Ibish pointed out that bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a peaceful close would serve America’s national interests on multiple fronts. According to Ibish, Arabs often see international relations through the lens of suffering Palestinians.
“It complicates everything you do in the Arab world and in other places,” Ibish said. “This issue is a gift that keeps on giving for extremists and terrorists, anyone who wants automatic legitimacy, instant credibility with certain constituencies, just by shouting.”
Friedman repeatedly stated that any lasting two-state solution would require a number of factors: two viable states with contiguous borders based upon the 1967 lines, mutual capitals in Jerusalem and a deal based on one-to-one land swaps. Missing any of these, she said, would fatally compromise the deal.
Friedman argued that a deal would also require Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to treat the White House as a friend and ally, rather than repeatedly humiliating the president. She called upon President Barack Obama to use his powers of persuasion and his new secretary of state, John Kerry, to speak directly to the Israeli and Palestinian people in hopes of putting internal pressure on their leaders.
Both Ibish and Friedman expressed cautious hope that a solution could be reached before it was necessary to fight a war in order to reopen communications.
“I’m not super optimistic, but in some ways I’m very hopeful,” Friedman said. “I think the stars are aligned right now in a way that they have not been in a long time. The question is, will the policies come together and make it work? I’m hopeful.”