If there is one important thing that Americans who care about Israel's future can do right now, it is to support their president's efforts to stop settlement construction in the West Bank.
We Israelis, who want to continue living in a Jewish and democratic state, need such a freeze just as much as our Palestinian partners for peace need it.
Let me explain.
I am an Israeli Jew, a Zionist, who strongly believes that the only way for us to fulfill our dream of a Jewish and democratic state in the land of Israel, for generations to come, is by establishing a Palestinian state next to ours. Because a real democracy does not occupy another people.
Because occupation is not compatible with Jewish values. And because Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic when Palestinians are gradually becoming a majority in the land of Israel.
But it's not just the creation of a Palestinian state that we need. We want the Palestinian state to be stable, and we would like it to be the result of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, not the result of unilateral action or an international dictate.
The stability of the Palestinian state is particularly important. A stable state is better positioned to deliver security and economic sustainability.
To be viable and stable, the Palestinian state must be contiguous.
The settlements in the West Bank stand in the way of both goals. They deny contiguity for a future Palestinian state. And continued settlement construction thwarts serious negotiations with the Palestinians.
If you look at a map of the West Bank, you will see how the settlements turn it into Swiss cheese. They are ubiquitous. They are connected to Israel through a grid of roads for settlers only, which crisscross the Palestinian hinterland, and deny freedom of movement for Palestinians.
To facilitate the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, most of the settlements will have to be removed. And Israel's continued settlement construction makes their future removal harder and harder.
But settlement construction doesn't only hinder the implementation of a future peace agreement. It also thwarts negotiating it. Settlement construction sends a message to Palestinians that Israel has no intention of leaving the occupied territories. It sends a message that Israel is not serious about peace. And as a result, the Palestinian moderates, Israel's partners for peace, lose credibility with their public. Palestinians often tell me that when see cranes and bulldozers developing settlements on land that is supposed to become their future state, they wonder why their leaders are negotiating the terms for establishing their state while providing cover for Israeli actions that deny its establishment. Palestinian moderate leaders simply cannot afford to continue negotiations with Israel while settlement construction goes on.
You and I know that Israelis yearn for peace and are willing to pay the price to achieve it. Polls consistently show that. I spend a large part of my time in the West Bank. I talk to Palestinians. And I can tell you that most Palestinians also yearn for peace and are willing to make the necessary compromises for a two state solution.
My movement, Peace Now, works tirelessly to encourage Israelis to take action in support of peace. You can help. You can show Israelis that their American friends care about peace for Israel. You can show that you care about ensuring Israel's Jewish and democratic character. The best way for American friends of Israel to do that is by encouraging their government to help bring us, at last, the peace and security that we and our neighbors so deserve.
Send that message to your elected officials. Tell them that Israelis and Palestinians desperately need America's help. Help them help us live in security in a state that is Jewish and democratic, solidly safe and morally sound.