Members of Congress and Jewish Leaders Oppose a Unilateral Palestinian Statehood
By Staff Writer
From left: NYS Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli; Rep. Jerrold Nadler; Rep. Nan Hayworth; Rev. Jacques DeGraff (behind Sen. Gillibrand); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; Rep. Bob Turner; Mr. Alan Jaffe, Pres. of the JCRC-New York; Rep. Nita Lowey; and Mr. William Daroff, .Jewish Federation of N. America.
NY – Elected officials and leaders from the North American Jewish community passionately spoke in opposition to a United Nations (UN) vote on unilateral Palestinian. Rather than a unilateral declaration, the speakers demanded a return to bilateral, direct negotiations toward two states for two peoples.
"The Palestinians’ unilateral bid for statehood through the United Nations is a harmful distraction from achieving true peace and stability between Israel and Palestine," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "The only credible path for a two-state solution is through the negotiating table. The United States has made clear to the Palestinians and to others around the world that we stand with our ally Israel at this time of grave risk and insecurity."
The leaders also addressed the potential consequences for the future stability and welfare of the region if unilateral Palestinian statehood is pursued.
"The Palestinian Authority has not acted as a responsible partner for peace with Israel," said Representative Bob Turner. "It continues to pay - with U.S. dollars - terrorists in Israeli prisons convicted of murdering Israeli civilians, and it has done nothing to stop the incessant shelling of Israeli towns. I continue to believe that all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority be halted until these matters are addressed. Statehood, which can only happen under the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accord, is out of the question at this time. If the United Nations truly wants to stand up against terrorism, it has a moral obligation to deny this request."
Congressmen Charles Rangel (left) and Gary Ackerman.
Photo: Gloria Starr Kins
Recently, a petition of more than 100,000 supporters was delivered to UN officials expressing opposition to the Palestinian statehood initiative. The action reflected a powerful expression by Jews and non-Jews alike in support of bilateral, direct negotiations toward two states for two peoples. The petition and the press conference were initiated by JCRC-NY in conjunction with the Israel Action Network, an initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
"Today’s press conference sends a clear message that New York’s elected officials, from both parties, strongly oppose the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. and support direct negotiations instead," said Michael Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY.
"We all share one goal: peace," said Rabbi Steve Gutow, Israel Action Network co-sponsor, President/CEO of Jewish Council for Public Affairs in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America. "Outstanding issues ranging from borders and security to the fate of refugees require cooperation and good faith between the parties, not a unilateral declaration of independence that ignores Israel as a partner in peace. It is time to sit together and make peace; time to stop the posturing and strident rhetoric that characterized President Abbas’s speech. Israel is ready to meet without preconditions. We ask the same of the Palestinians. Peace needs partners."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Photo: Gloria Starr Kins
The complete list of speakers at the event outside the UN Headquarters is as follows: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Rep. Gary Ackerman; Rep. Nan Hayworth; Rep. Nita Lowey; Rep. Carolyn Maloney; Rep. Jerrold Nadler; Rep. Charles Rangel; Rep. Bob Turner; NY-State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli; NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; Michael S. Miller – Executive Vice President and CEO, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York; Alan Jaffe – President, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York; Rabbi Steve Gutow – Israel Action Network co-sponsor, President/CEO of Jewish Council for Public Affairs in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America; Jerry Levin – The Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees member and president of the Board of UJA-Federation of New York.
The following participants have also provided statements regarding the unilateral action by the Palestinians:
Rep. Gary Ackerman, top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia: "There are some of us who strongly believe that people have to live with the consequences of their actions, and that there may need to be a total cutoff of all aid to the Palestinians for pursuing this course of action which is very dangerous and ill advised. If they’re willing to consider putting their future in the hands of the United Nations, perhaps they should think about how much aid their friends in the U.N. will provide to accompany whatever meaningless, one-sided U.N. resolution they might pass. And then they should think twice, reverse course and get back to the negotiating table where Prime Minister Netanyahu awaits them."
Rep. Nan Hayworth: "If a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is to be achieved, I firmly believe that negotiations for a two-state solution must be done through the two parties. The path chosen by the Palestinian Authority to avoid direct discussions with Israel will only further damage their fragile relationship and is intolerable. The Security Council should oppose the Palestinian Authority's bid for statehood at the United Nations and I encourage President Abbas to resume negotiations directly with Israel. The state of Israel is a shining example that representative democracy can thrive in the Middle East and I applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu’s lasting commitment to peace and security in the region."
Congressman Bob Turner (left) with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
Photo: Gloria Starr Kins
Rep. Nita Lowey, Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over Israel's annual $3 billion U.S. aid package: "A just and lasting peace agreement can only be achieved through a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The reckless decision of the Palestinian Authority to abandon negotiations and instead take their case to the UN indisputably sets back prospects of an agreement and calls into question their commitment to genuine and lasting peace. All nations should reject this political ploy and urge the PA to return to the negotiating table immediately."
Rep. Jerry Nadler: "It is inconceivable that a dispute between two peoples can be resolved through the unilateral decision of one. We must strongly oppose any effort by the Palestinians for a unilateral declaration of statehood and promote a negotiated agreement recognizing two states for two peoples. Instead of wasting its time and energy on an attempt for unilateral statehood, the Palestinian Authority should start persuading its people that a Palestinian state can only be achieved through conceding the right of a Jewish state to live in peace and security next door."
Rep. Charles Rangel: "While we all desire a two-state solution that embraces a Jewish state of Israel and a sovereign and secure Palestinian state living side-by-side in mutual recognition and peace, we are no closer to that goal today than we were yesterday. The need to sit down together to address issues of security and borders cannot be trumped by a universal declaration of statehood, no matter what the international community tries to dictate. I am hopeful that the next few weeks and months will allow the Israelis and Palestinians the opportunity to acknowledge and reconcile their differences and reach an agreement for the sake of peace, history, and their children."
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli: "The path toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians will come only from direct and bilateral negotiations. It is counterproductive for the United Nations to take up the Palestinian Authority's request for a declaration of statehood. I call upon both sides to come together and find a way to mediate an agreement that recognizes Israel as the Jewish state. Only then will it be possible for Israel and the Palestinians to achieve a two-state solution that provides security for all."
(from left): Rep. Jerrold Nadler; Rep. Nan Hayworth; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; Alan Jaffe, Pres., JCRC-NY; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; Michael Mil-ler, Exec. VP and CEO, JCRC-NY; Christine Quinn, NYC Council Pres.; Congressman Charles Rangel; Rev. Jacques DeGraff.
Photo: Gloria Starr Kins
NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio: "A unilateral declaration of statehood represents a setback for peace in the Middle East. It will escalate tensions and undermine the ongoing attempts at negotiation, which are the only true path to reconciliation. I strongly urge the United States and members of the United Nations to reject the declaration of statehood. The long-term peace and security of the State of Israel and the Palestinian people depend upon it."
NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn: "Israel must have clear and defensible borders. The Israeli people deserve to live in peace and security. The UDI in no way guarantees this for them, nor does it guarantee this for the Palestinian People. Real peace can only be achieved through good-faith negotiations and meaningful collaboration. This tactic of going to the UN may set back prospects for advancing a true and lasting peace. Moreover, the key ingredient in any peace deal is for the Palestinians to finally recognize the full right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state."
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer: "The only legitimate path to peace and recognition for Palestinian statehood is through negotiation. The Palestinian Authority must return to the negotiating table to work on the core issues that have stood in the way of a final peace agreement. The solution cannot be imposed by one side on another. It must be found through direct and bilateral negotiations, without preconditions."
Alan Jaffe, President, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York: "The Palestinians’ attempt to bypass direct negotiations with the State of Israel and seek a unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations does not advance the interests of either party. Only by talking directly to one another can an independent Palestinian state be established alongside the Jewish state. That is the only way to achieve a true and lasting peace."