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December 17, 2019 10:35 am

Report: J Street Sought to Condition US Military Aid to Israel

avatar by Israel Hayom / JNS.org

J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami addressing the 2019 J Street National Conference. Photo: J Street via Flickr.

JNS.org – The American Jewish lobby group J Street earlier this year considered a proposal seeking to reduce US military aid to Israel, shelving it only after the group’s Israel director warned that such a move would effectively end any influence the group might have in Israel, according to The Intercept online news site.

According to the report, a letter signed by 35 people who served on the J Street U board from 2013 to 2019 proposed “that J Street develop a strategy that moves the organization toward an agenda of selective aid reduction, i.e. every shekel the Israeli government spends on settlements and home demolitions results in a proportional reduction of American military aid.”

When the proposed policy was discussed internally by the organization earlier this year, according to the report, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami seemed to be for it; as a result, the board was ready to back it. However, sources familiar with the debate told The Intercept that objections from Yael Patir, J Street’s Tel Aviv-based Israel director, torpedoed the policy, warning that J Street would lose what influence it has left in the Knesset if it endorsed conditioning military aid.

Patir said in response to the report that “J Street is proud of being a broad movement encompassing a wide variety of supporters with different views and backgrounds, all of whom are committed to our mission, support for Israel and the diplomatic process. Internal discussions at J Street are conducted in a spirit of openness and attentiveness; with that, ultimately the organization has one official policy that guides us in our work in the United States and Israel.”

J Street said in a statement: “We are committed to and are working for the security and prosperity of Israel, and believe that a diplomatic arrangement leading to the two-state solution is an American and Israeli interest alike. For this reason, we supported and continue to support the largest-ever US aid package to Israel, which was signed under President [Barack] Obama.”

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