Dear Friends:

In the U.S. and in the international community, there is renewed energy in support of Israel Policy Forum’s mission—a viable two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ensures Israel’s security—as many come to understand following the atrocities of October 7 that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be ignored, sidelined, or managed as a permanent strategy. 

Yet today, amidst the worst crisis in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israelis and Palestinians have never been further from that goal. 

Talk of a two-state endgame is a difficult message for Israelis to absorb following the atrocities of October 7 and in the midst of war. Israelis are still praying for the return of hostages held by Hamas, identifying the remains of those massacred in communities in the Gaza Envelope, and absorbing continuous messages from Hamas leaders pledging to carry out more attacks and defending their murderous rampage. The majority of Israeli Jews are unwilling to trust Palestinians to live alongside them peacefully in a state of their own while the memories of October 7 remain so raw. Palestinians, meanwhile, are leaderless, displaced, facing a humanitarian crisis, and mourning the loss of loved ones.

The U.S. must provide diplomatic leadership that pursues the vision of a viable two-state outcome. In doing so, we must be sensitive to the trauma Israelis and Palestinians are currently experiencing.

We encourage and applaud President Joe Biden and his administration’s commitment to two states, and the conviction from senior American officials that genuine security for Israelis will only come as part of a political process that leads to both Palestinian statehood and regional normalization.  

We are also gratified to see members of Congress take up this banner in a clear and unambiguous way. Most recently, 49 Democratic senators co-sponsored an amendment to the forthcoming emergency supplemental spending bill supporting a negotiated two-state outcome as the path toward peace, security, and dignity for both sides.

Getting there will require promoting policies that are realistic in the current political environment, and that acknowledge and navigate the obstacles and limitations on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This moment requires doubling down on concrete policies designed to make an eventual two-state outcome more feasible and that rebuild support for it. Relying merely on public rhetorical commitments to two states is insufficient in the current environment and risks exacerbating political opposition to this goal.

That means first and foremost working urgently for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and to increase humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza. We are heartened by the robust, ongoing efforts by the United States in this regard. 

It also means pressing for overdue Palestinian leadership and governance reforms, for security arrangements that ensure that Israel’s security cannot be violated as it was on October 7, and for new regional frameworks to invest and participate in the reconstruction of Gaza.  

Close U.S.-Israel cooperation is essential in order to construct a viable pathway to two states, ensure Israel is not mired in a prolonged occupation of Gaza, and provide the basis for Israel-Saudi normalization and broader regional cooperation. Pursuing this political vision is key to defeating Hamas’ objectives.   

This weekend’s conference calling for the resettlement of Gaza, shamefully attended by over two dozen Israeli ministers and MKs, only harmed Israeli interests. Such dehumanizing and extremist rhetoric as was displayed at that conference must be resoundingly rejected. The far-right must not be able to carry out their stated goals of re-establishing settlements in Gaza, transferring millions of Palestinians, collapsing the Palestinian Authority, and annexing the West Bank—all of which would undermine Israel’s security, diplomatic standing, and resilience. 

We are gratified that there is renewed attention on our mission. We also recognize October 7 has fundamentally shifted the political environment in the region and changed the trajectory of the lives of millions impacted by the conflict. This moment necessitates retaining our core commitments, adjusting our tactics, and grounding ourselves for the arduous work that lies ahead.  

We thank you for your support of Israel Policy Forum’s work to promote the kind of pragmatic and constructive U.S. engagement that is so critically necessary amidst the current crisis, and will continue to remain so in its aftermath. 

With thanks,

David A. Sherman, Board Chair, Israel Policy Forum
David A. Halperin, CEO, Israel Policy Forum