The Chicago-based Eretz Yisrael Committee grassroots group is petitioning the Orthodox Union (OU) to demand that U.S. President Barack Obama ease pressure on Israel to implement a two-state solution.
Committee head Yosef Rabin explains that the move is in wake of Obama’s remarks made at a press conference held Tuesday night, as well as Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu’s statements Wednesday stating that he would continue with the “peace process.”
Netanyahu announced Wednesday at the Economic Conference in Jerusalem, “The Palestinians must understand that they have in our government a partner for peace, security, and for economic development of the Palestinian economy.” The statement came a day after Obama stated his intention to drive a two-state solution upon the Netanyahu administration.
When asked how realistic he thinks it is that Israel’s new government would implement a two-state solution, Obama responded, “It's not easier than it was, but I think it's just as necessary.” He clarified, “The status quo is unsustainable... it is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states with peace and security.” The American President furthermore stated that his appointment of special envoy George Mitchell is a serious signal in “trying to move the parties in a direction that acknowledges that reality,” and that he intends to be persistent in his policy.
The statements of Netanyahu and Obama have concerned the Eretz Yisrael Committee. “What’s news is that Netanyahu and Obama are on the same page,” Rabin says. He explains that Netanyahu is swaying away from the platform promised to his constituents to revamp the ‘peace process.’ “When Netanyahu gave his acceptance speech, he says how he chose the right-wing,” Rabin stated.
Nor does Rabin think that Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party would pull the plug on Netanyahu’s push for peace. “Lieberman is an opportunist. He upheld the Olmert government. The day after the election, he again spoke about the two-state solution. He’s powerful,” Rabin said.
Despite Yisrael Beiteinu’s platform calling for a divided Jerusalem and autonomy to areas with an Arab majority –hardly a nationalistic platform - Lieberman is portrayed by the media as a hawkish hardliner.
The leftwing Labor party under Ehud Barak’s leadership agreement to join the Likud coalition spells disaster, according to Rabin. On the 30th anniversary of Israel’s signing peace accords with Egypt, the pro-Israel activist commented, “What Begin did to Sinai, Sharon did to Gush Katif, and Netanyahu is probably going to take care of the rest of job in giving up parts of the Land of Israel.”
Yosef Rabin’s campaign to prevent territorial concessions from coming to fruition was preceeded by American Jewish outcry, including from the OU last November, to demand that the United States not push for a divided Jerusalem. The campaign was made despite outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s desire to divide the country’s capital.
Rabin feels that the united Jerusalem campaign succeeded in altering Israel’s policy. “All of a sudden, Olmert changed his tune for a while. He started to back off a bit,” Rabin said, explaining that the voices expressed by Diaspora Jewry are legitimate. “At the end of the day, the only thing that gives the Israeli government legitimacy is that the Jewish people in the Diaspora say it’s a Jewish State,” he said.
Rabin stated that had a majority of Jews vented protest against Ariel Sharon’s plan to expel the Jews from Gush Katif, the plan would not go through. “I said on Jewish Activist Network radio today that anyone who was silent can repent by not making the same mistake again. We’re not only talking about a theoretical debate of transfer, we know how it was done. We have to be ready to meet that challenge,” Rabin stated, asking that readers call the Orthodox Union (202-513-6484) to express their opposition to Obama’s demands for a two-state solution.