J Street president hails peace deals, says Palestinian issue must be addressed

WASHINGTON — The president of the liberal, pro-Israel J Street Lobby lauds the peace agreements Israel will be signing later today with the UAE and Bahrain, but clarifies that they don’t “fundamentally address the Palestinian issue.”

The comments by Jeremy Ben Ami to The Times of Israel come after Trump administration senior adviser Jared Kushner said today’s White House ceremony “marks the beginning of the end of the Israel-Arab conflict.”

On Friday, White House Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook said “historians will look back on these two peace agreements as the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Ben Ami argues that while the latest normalization agreements are positive developments that gives Israel a “taste” of what could be, the Jewish state is still “not fundamentally accepted in the region” and won’t be until it resolves the Palestinian issue.

Asked whether he sees the Arab Peace Initiative as offering the proper formula for Middle East Peace, Ben Ami insists that it is.

First adopted by the Arab League in 2002, the Arab Peace Initiative promises Israel full diplomatic relations with the entire Muslim world in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines.

Despite agreeing to normalized ties with Israel before a two-state solution is reached with the Palestinians, Ben Ami says the new peace agreements do not upend the Arab Peace Initiative.

However, he admits “maybe there’s updating [to the API] that needs to happen, which a new president and new administration could look at doing.”

Jacob Magid

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