JVP Statement on Secretary Kerry’s Speech
Palestinians have been waiting far too long for their freedom.
Jewish Voice for Peace’s organizing and advocacy has always been about ensuring full equal rights for Palestinians. In his speech today, Secretary Kerry rightfully pointed his finger at one central issue: Israel’s practice of seizing more and more land while denying Palestinians full equal rights. Israel cannot claim to be democratic while militarily occupying another people indefinitely, and as Kerry finally said: denying Palestinians rights is at odds with democratic ideals. We fundamentally agree that there can be no just and lasting peace without full equality, justice and freedom.
However, Kerry’s plea to preserve a two-state solution failed to offer a real vision for how Palestinian human rights will be established and respected in full – and so is no plan at all. Israel’s actions have made it very clear that without concrete pressure, they will continue to pursue policies to expand their sovereignty and quell efforts to realize Palestinian rights.
One thing is very clear: any plan must include ensuring equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, right of return for Palestinian refugees, an end to military occupation, and freedom for all Palestinians. But the reality is that Israel has no incentive to comply with the principles Kerry outlined. This year, the US promised Israel billions more dollars in military aid. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President-elect Trump are planning a future of a US and Israel partnership against the world, fueled by xenophobic, aggressive bluster. This only adds to the energy and necessity of the already growing international pressure on Israel to ensure Palestinian rights.
This last week has brought unexpected headlines and last-ditch attempts by the Obama administration to resurrect a two-state solution before a Netanyahu and Trump alliance entrenches Israeli apartheid. There’s no way around it: what Secretary Kerry outlined in his speech is flat out impossible. The window for a two-state solution has passed thanks primarily to Israel’s continued Jewish-only settlement expansion on Palestinian land, unhinged right-wing government passing a steady stream of anti-democratic legislation, and refusal to ensure Palestinians’ basic human rights. The “viable and contiguous” land for a Palestinian state Kerry spoke of is pockmarked with settlements and checkpoints. A new framework is needed, one that centers issues of rights, not just borders.
We move forward into the fights ahead buoyed by an emerging global consensus that the incoming US and Israel’s existing far-right governments add up to a true political crisis. It is up to all of us to pursue a vision for justice, dignity and equality for Palestinians and Israelis by increasing the grassroots pressure on Israel, through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns, until full human rights of Palestinians are realized.