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April 5, 2013 1:23 pm

Letter to Netanyahu from U.S. Jewish Activists Challenged

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Benjamin Netanyahu presents his new government. Photo: Knesset Channel

The Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) has sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to disregard advice in a Wednesday letter by American Jewish leaders that he take “confidence-building steps” for peace with the Palestinians.

The Wednesday letter was signed by 100 Jewish activists and leaders, primarily involved with left-wing organizations in the U.S. Their letter called on Netanyahu “to respond to President [Barack] Obama’s call for peace by taking concrete confidence-building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict” which “would challenge Palestinian leaders to take similarly constructive steps, including, most importantly, a prompt return to the negotiating table.”

The Israel Policy Forum sponsored that letter. Other signatories included former senior U.S. Defense Department official Dov Zakheim, former AIPAC executive director Tom Dine, Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and others. The activists also urged Netanyahu to work closely with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

ECI, which was found by conservative commentator and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, responded in its own letter stating that the activists’ request was a veiled attempt to get Netanyahu’s government to make “painful territorial sacrifices.” ECI said the “one thing we never presume to do is instruct our friends in Israel on the level of danger to which they should expose themselves… Those issuing the demand will not experience the pain, or be compelled to sacrifice anything, should their advice prove foolish—as it has so many times in the past… From the safety of America, in the past they have recommended trusting Yasser Arafat, dividing Jerusalem, surrendering the Golan Heights to Syria, and withdrawing from territory that today is controlled by Iranian-backed terrorist groups.”
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