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U.S. Taxpayers Are Paying for 1,600 New Homes in East Jerusalem

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The Peace Process isn't working anymore. U.S. taxpayers have given Israel more $80 billion in military and civilian aid in the last half century and we have given Egypt and Syria billions more.

But we are no closer to peace. We are arming both sides and prolonging the conflict.

Right wing Jewish settlers are pushing aggressively to annex Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem and we are paying the bills.

Unfortunately, money that the US gives to Israel has become the most important indicator of whether Americans support a close U.S.-Israel relationship. If you support Israel, you have to support giving them billions in arms and aid.

This is madness, because every dollar that we give Israel is essentially matched in some way by Arab cash and arms for the Palestinians, Hamas, and the Syrians. We must de-escalate this arms war. It is leading nowhere.

If Israel didn't get so much U.S. military aid, then the right wing settlers wouldn't get the money to build homes on Palestinian lands.

They might actually have to talk to the Palestinians and work something out. Now with an open checkbook from the U.S., why should Israel negotiate?

Hopefully the recent imbroglio will be more than just a slap in the face to Vice President Joe Biden.

It should serve as a wake-up call that we have been fanning the flames of conflict for decades instead of working toward real peace, according to Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director, J Street -- a U.S. Jewish Peace organization.

The reality is that opponents of peace are pushing forward provocative actions in East Jerusalem that deliberately undermine chances for a peaceful resolution of the conflict,

For fourteen months, J Street has firmly backed the President. We have supported his stated intention to end the conflict, not just talk about it. We welcomed his early attention to the Middle East and we applauded his appointment of Special Envoy George Mitchell.

Now those talks are in danger and may well be the victim this week of one bureaucratic announcement.

If the talks continue, they will require that the U.S. provide a clear time frame, a commitment to propose solutions when the parties can't close gaps, a willingness to state publicly when the parties are not living up to their responsibilities, and a readiness to demonstrate real seriousness of purpose to reach a two-state endgame.

It is clear that some in Israel's leadership sense the danger of the moment.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier this year said that the failure to achieve a two-state deal is a greater existential threat to Israel than an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni has stated often that the future of a democratic, Jewish Israel hangs in the balance.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned his people that failure to achieve two states would mean the State of Israel was "finished."

How much louder can the alarm be sounding?

It is time for us as American Jews and other friends of Israel to respond to this moment as we would to any urgent crisis facing the State of Israel.

Israel's national anthem is HaTikva - "The Hope." It speaks of the 2,000-year dream of the Jewish people to be a free people again in their own land. 62 years ago, that dream became a reality.

Today, that dream is slipping through our hands - on our watch. A minority of ideologues more interested in settlements than in securing a democratic, Jewish homeland are putting the future of Israel at grave and imminent risk.

Now the State of Israel faces a true existential challenge. Will we answer the call? The future of a 2,000-year old dream hangs in the balance.

Write: jfleetwood@aol.com