NEW YORK — A day before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to take the speaker’s podium at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 100 prominent Jewish Americans published a letter Wednesday calling on the Palestinian leader to “establish a positive tone” and “rally supporters for a two-state solution.”
The letter came just before Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to intensify peace talks and have greater American involvement in the negotiations.
The signers of the letter represent a spectrum of US Jews, including prominent academics such as Deborah Lipstadt as well as members of both the Democrat and Republican political establishments.
The missive, which was initiated and organized by the Israel Policy Forum, came two days after Abbas met with prominent American Jewish leaders on Monday evening.
“Our goal in initiating this letter and bringing together this diverse group,” explained IPF Board Chair Peter A. Joseph, “is to demonstrate the broad base of support among American Jews for a two-state solution, as well as their profound desire for courageous leadership by all parties to bring about this outcome.”
The letter cited quotes attributed to Abbas, in which he allegedly told a group of Meretz supporters that “people say that after signing a peace agreement we will still demand Haifa, Acre and Safed. That is not true. Signing the agreement will signal the end of the conflict.”
It called on Abbas to make “such statements publicly,” noting that “emphasizing the Palestinian people’s willingness to live in peace with Israel would be important steps to improve the environment affecting the peace process.”
“We urge you to seize the opportunity of the world stage at the General Assembly this year to generate positive sentiment and rally supporters for a two-state solution,” the signers, which included former members of the George H. W. Bush and Reagan administrations as well as former Democrat congressmen, wrote.
Observers expect Abbas to signal guarded support for the ongoing peace talks in his Thursday address to the plenary. In the meantime, Abbas’s delegation held talks Tuesday with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will also attend a meeting of the Palestinian Economic Initiative later Wednesday evening. The Palestinian delegation has had a busy week in anticipation of Abbas’s Thursday speech, shuttling around to meetings mostly concerning the peace talks that resumed in late July.
US President Barack Obama foregrounded the peace talks during his Tuesday address to the plenary, telling members that “friends of Israel, including the US, must say clearly that its future depends on the creation of a Palestinian state.”
While acknowledging that “the US will always support Israel,” the president noted that “the Palestinian people have a right to live in dignity in their own state.”