Progress Towards Peace
October 7, 2010
The renewal of direct negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this month represented an essential step forward in the peace process.
The next few weeks are critical in determining whether the progress towards peace will continue. Israel’s 10-month moratorium on construction in the West Bank ended on September 26, and President Abbas had previously threatened to quit the negotiations if Israel resumed settlement activity. As reported in Haaretz, President Abbas said that he would seek advice from the 22-member Arab League this week before making his decision. Prime Minister Netanyahu has urged the Palestinian Authority leadership to continue direct talks, arguing that both sides should approach negotiations without preconditions. Settlements never prevented negotiations in the past, and like other issues, settlements will be resolved during the talks. “The way to achieve an historic peace agreement between our two peoples is to sit around the negotiating table, seriously and continuously, and not to leave it, because it is the place to resolve the disputes between us.” Read Prime Minister Netanyahu’s complete statement here.
Israel remains committed to achieving a true and lasting peace with the Palestinians. Despite recent rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza into southern Israel and the threat of further violence from those who want to derail the peace talks, Israelis continue to support the peace process by a large majority. The articles below reflect Israel’s fundamental desire for peace and the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve that goal.
Michael B. Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, responds to a Time magazine report titled “Why Israel doesn’t care about peace,” saying that Israelis desperately want peace, in spite of good reasons to be skeptical. The continuous threat of rockets raining down and suicide bombers, the rejection of two peace deals by Palestinians in the last 10 years, and the rise to power of Hamas in Gaza following the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, do not contribute to an atmosphere of trust between Israelis and Palestinians. “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.” Read Oren’s full article here: Why Israelis care about peace
Aluf Benn, Haaretz columnist and editor, asserts that Prime Minister Netanyahu is truly committed to establishing a peace agreement and well-positioned to deliver on it. “He is usually depicted as a hard-liner, a hopeless ideologue burdened by a legacy of hawkish sound bites and shackled to a notoriously conservative coalition. But, contrary to popular wisdom, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is proving to be the most dovish leader that Israel has had in many years, one who is using military force cautiously and seeking, at long last, a diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. […] The standard-bearer for Israeli conservatism has jumped on the peace bandwagon.” Read Benn’s full article here: At the Mideast peace talks, a changed Netanyahu
The Christian Science Monitor suggests in an editorial that now is the time for both Abbas and Netanyahu to take risks to achieve peace. “So far, both leaders have shown the political will to continue. If that will is real, they’ll get past this weekend [the end of the construction moratorium], with America’s help. […] It’s critical to keep Abbas and Netanyahu talking. The longer they talk, the greater chance they have at success.” Read the full editorial here: Obama and his audacity of hope for Middle East peace talks