AJC criticized those Israeli legislators who supported a proposed bill in the Knesset that would legalize settler outposts, erected without Israeli government approval, in the West Bank.
The measure, introduced ahead of the pending court-ordered demolition of the Amona outpost, would retroactively recognize other unauthorized outposts built on privately-owned Palestinian land. It passed by a vote 58-50 in the first of the required three readings in the Knesset, and follows recent statements by Education Minister Naftali Bennett that “the era of the Palestinian state is over.”
Prime Minster Netanyahu, who continues to seek a negotiated peace with the Palestinians, opposed the proposed bill. In his address to the UN General Assembly in September, Netanyahu invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to visit Israel and address the Knesset. It was the latest effort by the prime minister to resume direct, bilateral talks with the Palestinians. Abbas has yet to reply to the invitation.
AJC CEO David Harris called the proposed legislation and Minister Bennett’s statement “singularly unhelpful” for advancing the climate of peace talks.
“The two-state solution may be frustratingly elusive after years of Israeli effort, and the Palestinian leadership remains astonishingly obstinate, but, supported by Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is the only conceivable path to an accord — and the long-term protection of Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation,” said Harris.
AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, has for decades advocated for direct, bilateral Israeli-Palestinian talks to seek an end to the conflict.
On the settlements, AJC’s stance has been clear. “While emphatically rejecting the contention that settlements are the core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, AJC has long believed that Israeli settlement policy is not conducive to advancing prospects for peace,” said AJC’s Board of Governors in a 2011 statement.