Browsing Posts tagged Mahmoud Abbas

Haven’t we seen this before?

This past Sunday, one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ top aides said, “The resumption of [peace] talks requires tangible steps, the first of them a freeze on settlements.”

It’s hard not to be overcome with a sense of déjà vu. Ten months ago, Israel ordered a 10-month freeze on settlement building, with the hopes of resuming peace talks. So what happened? Peace talks did resume, just last month. That was all well and good, until the Palestinians decided to play games. continue reading…

Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out to reaffirm his desire to continue direct negotiations saying, “I call on [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas to continue the good and sincere talks that we have just started, in order to reach an historic peace agreement between our two peoples.”

During the day, and in recent days, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been in close contact with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other senior US administration officials, as well as with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian king Abdullah, and has updated them on the efforts to ensure both the continuation of the talks and their success.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear, in his talks, that Israel is ready to hold continuous contacts in the coming days in order to find a way to continue the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Netanyahu added: “I hope that President Abbas will stay in the talks and, with me, continue on the road towards peace, which we started only three weeks ago after many in the world realized that my intentions to achieve peace are serious and genuine, and that I honor my commitments.  During my Government’s term in office, Israel has gone a significant way towards helping the Palestinians by easing restrictions, which has advanced their quality of life, both in Judea and Samaria, and in the Gaza Strip.  I say to President Abbas: For the future of both our peoples, let us focus on what is really important.  Let us proceed in accelerated, sincere and continuous talks in order to bring about an historic peace framework agreement within one year.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his great appreciation for US President Barack Obama’s, Secretary of State Clinton’s, and  Senator George Mitchell’s major efforts towards resuming the peace talks and ensuring their continuation.

Imagine that you’re a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether their bus will become a target of suicide bombers. Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children become soldiers at age 18, serve for three years and remain in the active reserves into their 40s. Imagine that you have fought in several wars, as have your parents and even your grandparents, that you’ve seen rockets raining down on your neighborhood and have lost close family and friends to terrorist attacks. Picture all of that and you’ll begin to understand what it is to be an Israeli. And you’ll know why all Israelis desperately want peace.

Recent media reports, in Time magazine and elsewhere, have alleged that Israelis — who are currently experiencing economic growth and a relative lull in terrorism — may not care about peace. According to a poll cited, Israelis are more concerned about education, crime and poverty — issues that resonate with Americans — than about the peace process with the Palestinians. But such findings do not in any way indicate an indifference to peace, but rather the determination of Israelis to build normal, fruitful lives in the face of incredible adversity.

Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace, and who wouldn’t be? We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes. We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected. Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed. We watched bereaved mothers on Israeli television urging our leaders to persist in their peace efforts, while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.

Given our experience of disappointment and trauma, it’s astonishing that Israelis still support the peace process at all. Yet we do, and by an overwhelming majority. According to the prestigious Peace Index conducted by the Tamal Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University and released in July, more than 70% of Israelis back negotiations with the Palestinians, and nearly that number endorse the two-state solution. These percentages exist even though multiple Palestinian polls show much less enthusiasm for living side by side in peace with Israel, or that most Israelis believe that international criticism of the Jewish state will continue even if peace is achieved.

Indeed, Israelis have always grasped at opportunities for peace. When Arab leaders such as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat or King Hussein of Jordan offered genuine peace to Israel, our people passionately responded and even made painful concessions. That most Israelis are still willing to take incalculable risks for peace — the proposed Palestinian state would border their biggest cities — and are still willing to share their ancestral homeland with a people that has repeatedly tried to destroy them is nothing short of miraculous.

It’s true that Israel is a success story. The country has six world-class universities, more scientific papers and Nobel Prizes per capita than any other nation and the most advanced high-tech sector outside of Silicon Valley. The economy is flourishing, tourism is at an all-time high and our citizen army selflessly protects our borders. In the face of unrelenting pressures, we have preserved a democratic system in which both Jews and Arabs can serve in our parliament and sit on our Supreme Court. We have accomplished this without knowing a nanosecond of peace.

We shouldn’t have to apologize for our achievements. Nor should outside observers conclude that the great improvements in our society in any way lessen our deep desire for peace. That yearning was expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the recent White House ceremony for the start of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Addressing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “my partner in peace,” Netanyahu called for “a peace that will last for generations — our generation, our children’s generation and the next.”

For Israelis who don’t have to imagine what it’s like to live in a perpetual war zone, that vision of peace is our lifeline.

Michael B. Oren is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

On Tuesday evening on Highway 60, near Hebron, four Israeli civilians, one of whom was pregnant, were gunned down in their car in a hail of gunfire. “The vehicle was sprayed with dozens of bullets,” a paramedic at the scene told Israel’s Channel Two. “There were numerous shell casings around. We found four bodies and there was no chance whatsoever to help them; all we could do was to pronounce [their] death.”

The victims included two men, ages 25 and 40, along with two women of similar age. continue reading…

We Are Not Quitters

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Next week, we are presented with an opportunity to make history.

At the invitation of President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will come to Washington to sit face-to-face and discuss peace. I am here to tell you that, as stated at the formulation of this Israeli government, Israel is committed to seeing these talks through to reach a final agreement and a permanent end to the conflict.

In short, we are not quitters.

The road to peace has been long and will continue to be strenuous, but we will not relent. There are forces around the region that have, and will continue to try, to derail us from this pursuit. Still, Israel remains steadfast in our desire to secure a lasting peace with Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, alongside a thriving Palestinian state.

Israel is ready to sit down with the Palestinian leadership and come to resolution on the issues of concern to both peoples. After sixty years, Israelis hope the Palestinians will no longer treat us as wary neighbors but rather as regional allies and friends.

It is my sincere hope that at this historic turning point, Palestinians will join with Israel in a quest for peace.

Israel is dedicated to seeing this long elusive peace realized. We will not quit.

Michael Oren is Israel’s Ambassador to the United States

Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomes the invitation of the United States to begin direct negotiations without preconditions. The Prime Minister has been calling for direct negotiations for the past year and a half.

While Israel called for a moratorium on construction in the West Bank last winter as a sign of good faith in order to restart negotiations, it has taken months of shuttle diplomacy by US envoy George Mitchell to convince Palestinian leadership to return to negotiations.

Said Netanyahu, “Reaching an agreement is a difficult challenge but is possible. We are coming to the talks with a genuine desire to reach a peace agreement between the two peoples that will protect Israel’s national security interests, foremost of which is security.”

Please stay tuned for further updates.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the history of the State of Israel, never have there been preconditions for face-to-face peace talks. While it was not obligated to do so, the Israeli government last November ordered a 10-month freeze in new building projects in the West Bank.

This sign of good faith, the outward stretch of our hands in friendship with the Palestinians, has been rejected for seven months. Now the Palestinians are calling for the freeze to be extended.

The goal of the freeze was to encourage Palestinians to come to peace talks, but rather than embracing this moment, many are foolishly waiting for it to end so another freeze can be used as a “precondition for peace talks.” continue reading…

Eight tentacles. Eight predictions. The now infamous “Paul the Octopus” has emerged from the FIFA World Cup with 100% accuracy, predicting all of Germany’s games as well as the final. Like consecutive flips of a coin, with what starts off as a 50-50 chance gets smaller and smaller with each next prediction. The odds of going eight for eight? 0.39 percent. For his next look into the proverbial crystal ball, Paul the Octopus would be smart to predict a two-state solution: lasting peace between Israelis and their Palestinian neighbors.
There is a lot the Jewish people can learn from this psychic, nonkosher specimen. No one would have put money on this psychic octopus, even if the payoff is about 256:1. Then again, two thousand years ago, who would have bet on the Jewish people? Whether it is oil lasting 8 days or an unbelievable statistical anomaly of an octopus having a perfect world cup bracket, the world is full of surprises. Our prediction is that peace is coming and we hope that we have the same clairvoyance  as Paul the Octopus. continue reading…