(March 5, 2018 / JNS) The head of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee called for the creation of a Palestinian state in his address to the organization’s annual pro-Israel conference in Washington, D.C.
AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr told the 18,000 attendees on Sunday evening that everyone must work “toward that future: two states for two peoples. One Jewish with secure and defensible borders, and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future,” he said.
He added that “today, that dream seems remote. This is tragic.”
Kohr also blamed Palestinian leadership for avoiding direct talks with Israel, saying that “peace begins by talking” and lamented that “it has been nearly eight years since [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas has had direct talks with an Israeli prime minister.”
Kohr declared that “there is no substitute for direct negotiations” and “there are no short cuts to peace. You can’t do it through the United Nations, not through the European Union and not through Moscow.”
Kohr’s forceful remarks came on the eve of a scheduled meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump.
While the Trump administration has not been as forceful as past U.S. administrations on the issue of Palestinian statehood, reports last week suggested that the administration’s possible peace proposal includes a call for a demilitarized Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem. However, it remains unclear whether or not the Trump administration’s peace plan will move forward given its strained relations with the Palestinians, as well as the legal troubles currently plaguing both Trump and Netanyahu.
At the same time, right-wing leaders in Israel slammed Kohr’s remarks over its explicit endorsement of Palestinian statehood.
“I am astounded as to why such a great, meaningful organization as AIPAC, whose raison d’etre is pro-Israel advocacy in the United States, would represent the positions of the State of Israel [and of the United States] so inaccurately [ . . . ],” said Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council.