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- Israelis want peace
- Israel has given land for peace
- Israelis accept the rights of both Jews and Arabs
- Israeli human rights and democracy
- Obstacle to peace: Palestinian terror and incitement
- Obstacle to peace: Iran and Hezbollah
1. Israelis want peace
- Israelis support a lasting peace achieved through direct negotiations, dialogue, and mutual recognition.
- Israeli leaders, regardless of political party, have consistently proven willing to give up ancestral land and natural resources for peace and security.
- Peace negotiations with Palestinians have achieved progress at times, but they have been stalled by violence and unwillingness by Palestinian leadership to negotiate and compromise.
- Additional factors, such as the Iranian nuclear threat and support for Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations, threaten the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the peace process. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority must root out advocacy of violence, jihad, and anti-Semitism in the media and in schools.
Peace requires two willing and accountable partners.
2. Israel has given land for peace
- Israeli leaders have demonstrated a continual willingness to give up land for peace.
- In 1967, when Israel was attacked in the 6 Day War, Israel assumed control of Judea and Samaria (or the West Bank of the Jordan River), the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula in the south, and the Golan Heights in the north. Israel offered to exchange land for peace, but the Arab World rejected negotiations.
- In 1979, Egypt agreed to peace with Israel, and Israel completely withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula.
- In 1994, Jordan agreed to peace with Israel, and Israel gave Jordan land and valuable natural resources.
- Since the 1990’s, Israel has been negotiating with the Palestinians to establish an independent state in exchange for peace and recognition of Israel. In 2000, Israel offered to withdraw from all of the Gaza Strip and 97% of the West Bank in exchange for peace with the Palestinians, though the Palestinians rejected the offer and started an intifadah. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all of its troops and citizens from the Gaza Strip, but the Palestinians elected the Hamas terrorist group, which has since launched thousand of rockets at Israeli civilians from Gaza.. In 2008, Israel again offered close to 98% of the West Bank as well as shared control over Jerusalem in return for Palestinian recognition and peace. In 2010, Israel froze all building in disputed territories in the hopes that the Palestinians would join them at the negotiating table.
These are only a few of the many attempts Israel has made at peace.
3. Israelis accept the rights of both Jews and Arabs
- Jews have had a continuous presence in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years, and the many Jews in exile always wanted to return.
- Since the 1800’s, many Jews were able to legally immigrate to the land of Israel. Jewish pioneers sought to live in peace with their neighbors, most of who worked the land but did not own it. But from the start, the local Arabs rejected the overtures and used violence against the Jews.
- In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted partition, even though their state would be small and difficult to defend. The local Arabs and neighboring Arab states rejected partition and declared war on Israel.
- Though Israel was granted a state by the UN, won a War of Independence, and has been a flourishing democracy since 1948, the Arab world still does not accept Israel’s right to exist. Israel, on the other hand, recognizes the rights of its neighbors to self-determination, and has an extensive record of peace overtures.
4. Israeli human rights and democracy
- Over 1 million Arab Muslims and other minorities live in Israel (over 20% of the population) and enjoy the same rights as Jews. Israeli Arabs have freedom of expression, press, and religion, universal health care, and protection from religious and gender discrimination. Israeli Arabs vote, and have been represented in the Israeli Knesset since the first elections in 1949. Like any other people, Israelis are not a perfect society, and sometimes discrimination unfortunately occurs. But Israel protects the rights of minorities and works to rectify inequalities.
- The Muslim residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not citizens of Israel, and therefore do not have the same rights as Israeli Arabs. This is an issue of nationality, not religion. The goal of the peace process is for the Palestinians to have independence and rights under a Palestinian state. Unfortunately, the current Palestinian government is not democratic and transparent, and severely limits the rights of the Palestinian people.
- Despite the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to make peace with Israel, Israel seeks to better the lives of the Palestinian people. The living standards of Palestinians have been increased significantly by Israel. Life expectancy, literacy and education, health care, and economic growth have all grown through the support of Israel. Palestinians also have the right to petition Israeli courts, even though they are not Israeli citizens.
Israel is a democracy, and a model of human rights and liberties in an oppressive and hostile region.
Peace means…freedom and equality for everyone.
5. Obstacle to peace: Palestinian terror and incitement
- Palestinian terrorism remains one of the principal obstacles to peace. Thanks in large measure to U.S. and Israeli assistance, the Palestinian Authority has significantly reduced the attacks and threats from the West Bank. The Palestinians originally promised to cease all terror in the Oslo Peace accords of 1993, but have not yet fulfilled this commitment. For example, in 2011 alone, 9 civilians were killed and over 50 wounded in indiscriminate terror attacks originating from the West Bank.
- These are just the attacks that have succeeded; terrorists regularly attempt to infiltrate Israel or to mount other attacks in the West Bank. The much criticized security fence and the handful of remaining checkpoints, however, continue to save the lives of innocent Israeli Jews and Arabs.
- The Palestinian Authority continues to lack any control whatsoever over the Gaza Strip and the Iranian-backed terrorists operating there. In fact, PA President Mahmoud Abbas continues to seek an alliance with Hamas, the party responsible for the ongoing terror emanating from their area of control. Since 2009, Hamas has fired over 1000 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza at Israeli civilian areas. In 2011, 12 civilians were killed and over 40 wounded in indiscriminate terror attacks originating from the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the amount of weaponry that has been smuggled into Gaza in 2011 has increased by 15 to 20 percent compared to last year.
- Incitement to hatred and violence continues to be a pervasive issue in the Palestinian educational system and media. Frequent instances of extreme anti-Israel indoctrination, including include the hero worship of terrorists, and the encouragement of children to aspire to ‘martyrdom,’ at times degenerates into blatant anti-Semitism.
Israelis seek peace, but need Palestinians partners that are sincere about ending the violence and the ongoing incitement that encourages terror.
Peace means…no more terror.
6. Obstacle to peace: Iran and Hezbollah
- Iran’s race to build a nuclear bomb has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. As the largest state sponsor of international terrorism and a blatant violator of human rights, a nuclear Iran would threaten the US, the Middle East, and the entire world.
- The latest sanctions against Iran being enacted by the United States and the European Union are the toughest yet, and the best chance of avoiding military action to halt Tehran's nuclear weapons program. Despite indications that the sanctions are working - the Iranian rial as dropped to its lowest value against the US dollar in two decades - the US is facing intense pressure from its Iranian oil-dependant allies to grant exemptions on the sanctions. Yet recent events, such as Iran’s attempted assassination of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in the US, and the Iranian threat to trigger regional chaos by closing the Straits of Hormuz oil shipping route, underscore the importance of tightening sanctions. (TIP)
- Even without a nuclear bomb, Iran is a brutal violator of human rights. The Islamic Regime, controlled by fundamentalist ayatollahs, is a theocratic dictatorship that regularly suppresses its own people. Political dissidents, homosexuals, and “immodest” women are regularly arrested and executed. A nuclear-armed Iran would only be emboldened.
- Iran has been designated the world’s top “state sponsor of terror” by the U.S. Department of State since 2000. Iranian proxies have killed more Americans than any other terrorist network before 9/11. For instance, Iran funds Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based terrorist organization that seeks to destroy Israel and eradicate Western influence in the Middle East. In 1983 Hezbollah conducted suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, killing more than 200 U.S. Marines. Hezbollah has also attacked civilians in Jordan, France, Switzerland, and Argentina.
- Hezbollah has launched thousands of attacks against Israel since 2000. In 2006, Hezbollah kidnapped and killed two IDF soldiers after infiltrating the Israel-Lebanon border, sparking a war. Hezbollah has amassed thousands of rockets and missiles, including missiles capable of hitting most cities in Israel. In January 2011, Hezbollah won enough support to gain veto power over the Lebanese government and select the prime minister.
Additionally, a nuclear Iran would further destabilize the Middle East, as many Arab countries would feel forced to seek their own nuclear technology.
Peace means…no more war.
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Sources: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jewish Virtual Library, The Israel Project, US State Department