WASHINGTON — A leading activist from Israel’s Peace Now movement last week urged the Senate to help stop Jewish settlement activity in the territories and prevent Israel’s security fence from cutting through the West Bank.
The director of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch Project, Dror Etkes, told the Senate Subcommittee for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs that permitting settlement activity and allowing the fence to be built along its planned route are “the same as condemning us to surrender our future as a Jewish, democratic state.”
“The continuation of settlement growth will spell an end to the Zionist dream, regardless of whether terrorism is crushed today or not for years to come,” Etkes said. “This is the most serious threat that we face today. Please help us with your words and deeds to meet this challenge.”
Etkes was invited to participate in the panel by the subcommittee’s chairman, Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Participating in a panel of experts who focused on Palestinian terrorism and on Yasser Arafat’s obstructionism, Etkes urged the Senate to back President Bush’s calls for Israel to build the fence along the Green Line rather than through the West Bank. He also urged Congress to support Peace Now’s proposal that funds deducted from American loan guarantees for Israel because of Israel’s spending on settlement activity be set aside in an account to help fund housing construction inside the Green Line for settlers who want to resettle inside Israel.
The other panelists were Boaz Ganor, executive director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior and former American Special Middle East Envoy Dennis Ross.