Yesterday, my colleagues and I at the American Task Force on Palestine issued the following policy statement regarding our approach to working with others to promote the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel which is key to our American national interests.
The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) was founded in 2003 with a clear mission: to advocate that a negotiated agreement that allows for two states, Israel and Palestine, to live side by side in peace and security is in the American national interest. To that end, from its outset ATFP deliberately and carefully adopted a strategy of seeking dialogue and potential cooperation with any groups or individuals that also espouse or are open to a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. ATFP has never entered into any formal partnership with or endorsed any other organization, constituency or ideological camp, but rather sought to maintain professional working relations with all parties sympathetic to a two-state agreement.
ATFP has long advocated the formation of a national coalition for a two-state solution and argued that such a coalition should include the widest array of concerned American organizations from across the political spectrum. It has also frequently pointed out that it makes sense for such a coalition to center around Arab-American and Jewish-American organizations that have the greatest stake in, connection with, and information about the conflict. The eventual formation of such a national coalition is one of ATFP's most important long-term strategic goals.
ATFP has therefore built ties to and engaged in dialogue with numerous Arab-American, Jewish-American, interfaith, peace-oriented, policy-oriented and academic institutions and organizations, keeping its doors open to all and refusing to foreclose any potential area for cooperation towards peace. ATFP has steadily built ties beyond the Arab-American community, with a special eye to bridging the divide with the Jewish-American community. Early in its history ATFP built a strong working relationship with Americans for Peace Now (APN) that it maintains to this day, including a joint internship program that was repeated this summer. More recently, ATFP has been in dialogue with a wide range of Jewish-American organizations, and its officials have spoken at events hosted by APN, J Street, the Israel Project, AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee. ATFP was proud to issue a joint statement welcoming the resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), an umbrella group representing a very broad cross-section of the Jewish-American community. The Task Force is fully cognizant that such dialogue sometimes involves serious differences of opinion with a wide array of interlocutors. ATFP does not endorse nor does it seek the endorsement of any of the organizations with which it engages.
ATFP reiterates its prerogative to enter into dialogue and build relationships with any and all organizations and individuals that declare their support for a two-state solution to the conflict. The Task Force strongly rejects efforts by anyone to dictate which groups and individuals ATFP may converse or meet with, or any other external efforts to impose litmus tests and limitations on its activities. As ATFP makes no demands on any other groups or individuals to determine their policies or choose their interlocutors, it expects the same from all parties. ATFP will not allow itself to be drawn into political rivalries that are wholly extraneous to its mission and often detrimental to the purposeful quest for peace. ATFP was not founded to represent any group other than itself, has faithfully stuck to its founding mission, and does not adhere to the policies or agenda of any other entity, including the United States government, any other government, or any other institution or organization. ATFP relies on its own independent evaluation of what policies, programs and activities will best promote peace and the American national interest.