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ICJP Steering Committee Meetings in New York and Washington D.C., 7 - 8 September 2011

In early September 2011, the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP) held a series of meetings in New York City and Washington DC. Top on the agenda were the Palestinians’ effort to win the endorsement of the UN General Assembly for a unilaterally declared statehood. Other issues discussed by the lawmakers included security requirements for a viable Middle East peace and the efforts by Iran to gain nuclear weapons.

 

The ICJP is chaired by Fiamma Nirenstein MP, Italy, and its leadership also comprises the following: Rep. Gary Ackerman, House of Representatives, United Staes; Mark Adler MP, House of Commons, Canada; Irwin Cotler MP, House of Commons, Canada; Michael Danby MP, House of Representatives, Australia; Luis Fishman Zonzinski, Legislative Assembly, Costa Rica; János Fónagy MP, National Assembly, Hungary; MK Shai Hermesh, The Knesset, Israel; Lord Greville Janner, House of Lords, United Kingdom; Rep. Nita Lowey, House of Representatives, United States; Floriano Pesaro, São Paulo Municipal Council, Brazil; and Viviane Teitelbaum, Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium.

At a dinner meeting hosted by World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, the delegation spoke frankly with UN ambassadors representing the Quartet, among them the permanent representatives to the UN of Germany, France, Poland, Russia, and the head of the European Union delegation. Nirenstein said: “The possibility of premature statehood for an entity that does not yet meet UN or other international criteria for being a state is unacceptable, in view of the absence of basic security conditions, financial viability, and the lack of an elected stable, peace-loving government. The phenomenon of Hamas control in Gaza is a source of deepest concern since Hamas is recognized internationally as a terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel.”

The lawmakers held a press conference at the United Nations to make the case against what is a premature and self-defeating effort by the Palestinians to circumvent the peace process. WJC Secretary General Dan Diker emphasized: “The fact is that if the United Nations endorses this unilateral move, it would be contravening its own resolutions and abrogating all the previous peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which were signed and endorsed by UN member states. It would stymie any possibility for negotiation and undermine all the efforts of the Quartet, of which the United Nations is a key member, to bring the parties together.”

On Capitol Hill, the Jewish lawmakers met together with their counterparts in the US House of Representatives for a private briefing with Michael Oren, ambassador of Israel to the United States. Ambassador Oren pointed out the unforeseen cataclysmic changes that have taken place in the Middle East in the past year. Only one year ago, he noted, a potentially promising meeting had taken place in the White House between Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, which was also attended by then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Oren observed that today the situation had radically changed, and many areas of the Middle East were in tumult. Abbas had avoided all Israeli offers for direct talks and instead unilaterally put the issue of Palestinian statehood on a track for UN endorsement, in violation of the Palestinians’ agreements with Israel and with the United States, thus creating a situation that cannot bring peace and may result in creating far-reaching instability in a region already reeling with instability.

The lawmakers resolved to continue their efforts to oppose this initiative and to continue to discourage participation in the commemoration of the Durban Conference on racism (‘Durban III’).