by Gordon Haas
When it came time to write the CRC blog this week I certainly had a number of different issues to consider. Should I touch upon the new European Union (EU) guidelines restricting its economic engagement and other activities with Israeli entities beyond the so-called Green Line (pre-1967 armistice lines)?
Should I touch on the changing landscape of Israel’s neighbors — specifically the ouster of President Morsi and the fact that the Syrian government seems to be holding its ground? Or should I focus on whether or not the newly elected President of Iran will continue to foster Iran’s rapidly growing nuclear enrichment program?
Although all are very worthy topics that the CRC watches, monitors, and is concerned with on a daily basis, the issue that I want to address is the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The CRC welcomes the prospect of renewed peace talks and recognizes the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry to try to bring both sides to the table.
There is a lot of pessimism from all sides about whether Abbas has real authority to implement a peace plan. The fact is that we must change the narrative to “how do we begin to achieve a lasting peace.” Israel has always offered to meet to begin talks with the objective of mutual recognition, which includes the PA’s recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.
We have taken the position that peace cannot be reached by any path other than direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians without any preconditions.
As stated perfectly by Larry Gold, president of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, of which our CRC is a member, “we have no illusions about the difficulties ahead. The issues that must be resolved are profound. But the status quo is unacceptable. Israel’s future as a secure and democratic nation state of the Jewish people cannot be fully preserved without establishment of a stable, viable, and independent State of Palestine. We encourage both sides to show the courage, flexibility and persistence necessary for these talks to be successful…We know the hard work is just beginning. As we move forward, we urge all who want peace to support these negotiations and to encourage reconciliation.”
In the months and weeks ahead we will be hearing about a lot of difficult issues; it is important to remember that we must support and encourage sacrifice and risk on both sides. These issues could include land swaps, Israel’s security, social and economic relationships, and more.
We must also be proud and thankful that the U.S. has not given up on peace and understands Israel’s need for security assurances. Both sides need to be inspired and supported to take risks for peace.