The coordinated assault on innocent civilians in southern Israel on Aug. 18 reminds us all of the challenges that must be met for there to be a viable peace agreement. While there are Palestinians who support a two-state solution with the Jewish State of Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side that would respect a peace agreement and each other, there are also millions who categorically reject any accommodation with Israel and believe that the only settlement should be one that includes Israel’s destruction.
Terrorism has been the preferred method of many of these rejectionists, and these killings underscore how vital it is that the rejectionists be met head on — not by the Israelis, but by their Palestinian neighbors and others in the Arab world who seek a true peace. The power of Hamas, Hizbullah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and their supporters is directly proportional to the silence with which their outrages are met.
Peace can be made only between partners who are willing and prepared to make historic compromises. The Israeli public has time and again expressed overwhelming support for a two-state solution. The Palestinian public remains split between proponents of a true peace, rejectionists, and those who can’t choose. They need to choose, and until that choice is made we should have no illusions in understanding that peace will remain elusive.
Our hearts go out to the families who are mourning the loss of their loved ones. Israel, given its small size, remains highly vulnerable and must go to great lengths to protect its. That Israeli has been willing to go to great lengths to secure a peace should be respected.
In September, the UN will likely consider a measure to endorse a unilaterally declaration of statehood by the Palestinians. Such action will only further degrade the prospects for a genuine peace agreement. It is time to turn away from confrontation and return to the bargaining table. It is time to restore hope.
New Jersey American Jewish Committee