I applaud President Obama’s call for the Palestinian Authority to return to direct peace negotiations with Israel and to halt its current campaign to declare a state unilaterally. In a major address on United States policy in the Middle East — devoted mostly to America’s response to the unrest across the Arab world — the President said, “Efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.”
President Obama has warned the Palestinians, and the international community, to stop this senseless drive to try to achieve a state without any negotiated agreement with Israel. As he made clear, “lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples, Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.” The President recognized that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security and that coming to the table will not be easy, noting the new unity deal between Fatah (the party of Palestinian President Abbas) and Hamas (a group foresworn to Israel’s destruction and designated by both the U.S. and the EU as a terrorist organization.) “How can one negotiate with a party that shows itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?” Obama said. “In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.”
Golda Meir once said that there will be peace when the Palestinians love their children more than they hate Israelis. Israelis have spent 63 years building a vibrant, democratic homeland, while defending themselves against hostile neighbors. Palestinians could have had a state 63 years ago. Let’s hope that they will finally demand that their leaders do what is best for their children: direct negotiations, a peace treaty with Israel, and building a state.
NJ Area Director
American Jewish Committee