Browsing Posts tagged Peace Process

Unfortunately, the Palestinian position during these 17 years has not moved one inch from its maximalist demands. Isn’t it time that the Palestinians are asked directly and openly if they are prepared to make any concessions? Are they prepared to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and the Jewish connection to the Western Wall and Temple Mount? Are they prepared to recognize that there are Jewish refugees in Arab states, and that Israel has very real security concerns?

While the world has unfortunately focused on settlement building, it has gone largely unnoticed that Palestinian leaders are retreating from previously accepted positions, especially the need for a two-states-for-two-peoples solution.

Click here to read the full Op-Ed in today’s Los Angeles Times.

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…

On September 21st, Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu addressed the press in Sderot on where the peace process is heading, and what needs to be done.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “My goal is not to conduct a process but to complete it.  My goal is to reach an historic peace agreement between us and our Palestinian Authority neighbors.  Now, I think that I expressed this in my 14.6.09 Bar-Ilan University speech one of the two most important principles for completing such a peace, and that is my willingness – and that of Israel – to recognize a Palestinian national state.  We say that the Palestinian people have a right to a national state of its own.  And we also say that the Palestinians must recognize the right of the Jewish people to a national state of its own.  They need to recognize the Jewish state.  The fact that they do not recognize it, that they are trying to avoid such a simple statement, raises doubts.  It raises questions on the Israeli side.  Why do you not agree?  Why?  Why are you using all kinds of excuses?  You say: we do not call Israel by name.  I spoke about the name of the Palestinian state?  I did not; I spoke about its essence.  I called it the national state of the Palestinian people.  And when the Palestinians refuse say something so simple, the question is – why?  You want to flood the State of Israel about refugees so that it will no longer have a Jewish majority?  You want to tear off parts of the Galilee and the Negev into mini-states?  And the citizens of Israel who are not Jewish?  In a peace agreement, there will be simplest symmetry: Israel recognizes the Palestinian state – and the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state.  This is so simple.  It is so just, so correct and so urgent.  I say to Abu Mazen: Recognize the Jewish state.” continue reading…

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.

Amid cautious hope and searing skepticism, Israelis and Palestinians launched direct talks last week to forge the true and lasting peace that has eluded our peoples for too long.

Israel looks forward to narrowing the differences on all “final status” issues that must be resolved for any peace agreement. Some of these core issues are well known: Israel’s security needs or the vexing question of Israel’s settlement communities in the West Bank, for instance. Still, as negotiations advance, we should remember that peace will require compromises and concessions — not only from the Israeli side, but from the Palestinians as well.

Jonathan Peled, Israel's Spokesman in Washington, DC

Of critical importance, yet often overshadowed, is the need for mutual recognition and a normalization of relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel is surrounded by 22 Arab countries with a total population of over 300 million. So far, only two of these nations have recognized and negotiated a peace agreement with Israel. As we move forward, Israelis cannot be expected to make painful sacrifices unless the Palestinians are willing to offer something beyond a temporary cessation of hostilities — something more than the unwilling, forced acceptance of Israel that all-too-often masquerades as “peace”. To secure a genuine peace, Palestinians must publicly acknowledge Israel as a permanent fixture in the region.

Vital, therefore, is the acceptance of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. Prime Minister Netanyahu has embraced the vision of two states for two peoples: speaking in Washington this week, he recognized the need for a Palestinian state that will serve as the homeland for the Palestinian people. In return, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. continue reading…

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.