letter from Israel

Former Israeli defense officials thank Congress for supporting two-state solution

Ex-deputy defense minister says he’s worried Trump could endorse Israeli annexation as compensation for a new Iran deal

Shealah Craighead/White House

President Donald J. Trump participates in bilateral talks Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

A group of Israeli former senior security officials sent a letter to members of Congress on Tuesday expressing their appreciation for the passage of H. Res. 246 that affirmed “strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states.”

The dispatch — directed to Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Ann Wagner (R-MO), the co-sponsors of the bipartisan House resolution — was sent two weeks after  a letter was addressed to the same group by 21 right-wing Knesset members criticizing the resolution’s support of a two-state solution. The Israeli legislators claimed the measure, which opposes the BDS movement, was a “grave error” because the creation of a Palestinian state would be “far more dangerous for Israel” than the BDS campaign.

“We are united in the conviction that a negotiated two-state agreement is essential to preserve the kind of Israel we dedicated our lives to fighting for on all fronts: a secure, thriving democracy with a solid Jewish majority for generations,” wrote the 25 signatories — which included former Mossad chiefs Danny Yatom and Shabtai Shavit; former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon; Uzi Arad, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Efraim Sneh, former deputy defense minister under Ehud Olmert.

Sneh told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that the letter was not a reaction to the Knesset critique, but an attempt to reinforce the necessity of maintaining the possibility of a two-state solution and the danger of annexation by “the people who have devoted their lives to the defense of Israel.” 

Sneh said he is most concerned that the Trump administration may announce its support for Israel annexing parts of the West Bank “to compensate” for a possible “rapprochement with Iran.” Sneh stressed that as someone who advocated for flexibility on the Israeli-Palestinian front to help the Obama administration put together a coalition to counter Iran, the “danger” is that a “boding rapprochement with Iran — which was now only delicately hinted — can be an incentive to that kind of measure,” he said. “Very dangerous steps by the Israeli government could be endorsed just for this purpose.”

The letter concludes: “We look forward to future bipartisan congressional initiatives that explicitly identify annexation as a threat to Israel’s security, and Jewish and democratic future.”

Schneider told Jewish Insider in a recent interview that he strongly believes a two-state solution is “the only way to guarantee Israel’s safety.”

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