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International

U.S. Support for Israel and the Peace Process


Summary of Policy and Recommendations 

  • The U.S. must continue its historic support for the State of Israel and its fundamental right to protect its citizens from terrorism, violence and harm, while promoting a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.


  • Israel is fully committed to pursuing a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians so that it may finally live in peace and security. Israel is also pursuing normalized relations with Arab and Muslim countries in the region, including Syria and the Gulf States.


  • A realistic final Israeli-Palestinian agreement will involve territorial compromise by Israel and the creation of a final border between Israel and a Palestinian state that will be consistent with demographic realities and providing viable security guarantees for Israel.  The U.S. should maintain a central role in the promotion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and other Israeli-Arab negotiations.  The U.S. should be involved in facilitating negotiations, but cannot impose solutions.
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  • A final Israeli-Palestinian agreement will include provisions for the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state.  Any international effort to resettle Palestinian refugees must also acknowledge the 800,000 Jews from Arab lands who were made refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  The Palestinian call for a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel is not appropriate given historical and current realities.
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  • The U.S. government must recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the U.S. Embassy should be moved there from its current location in Tel Aviv.
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  • The U.S. must continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and help ensure that Israel retains its qualitative military edge to promote its security, and to minimize the strategic dangers as well as fiscal costs of steps toward peace.


  • The U.S. must maintain its policy of isolating Hamas until it meets the requirements outlined by the Quartet:  Hamas must recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce the use of violence and terrorism, and accept previously negotiated Israeli-Palestinian agreements.  
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  • The U.S. should work to ensure that the Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas is released.
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  • The U.S. must work to end material support for Hezbollah from Syria and Iran.  The U.S. must also work to ensure the Lebanese government does not allow Hezbollah to operate as a de-facto terrorist militia in its territory. 
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  • The U.S. must make clear to Arab leaders that their silence in the face of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel incitement in their media makes them complicit in the perpetuation of this incitement, which is an impediment to lasting peace. The U.S. should urge heads of state and government ministers to speak out against the use of anti-Semitic images in the media and must also ensure that commitments to combat anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement be included in Israeli-Arab negotiations. 

Background 

From the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Anti-Defamation League has worked in support of a strong U.S. commitment to the State of Israel and its fundamental right to protect its citizens from terrorism, violence and harm, while promoting a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  

Israel is fully committed to pursuing a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians so that it may finally live in peace and security. Peace has proven difficult because there has not been a Palestinian peace partner willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist and able to uphold peace commitments. Israel was able to reach historic peace agreements with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) in which both sides made serious compromises for the sake of normalized relations.  Israel is also pursuing normalized relations with Arab and Muslim countries in the region, including Syria and the Gulf States.  In 2005, in the absence of a serious Palestinian negotiating partner, but still interested in taking steps to improve conditions on the ground, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, proving its willingness to make painful sacrifices even at a time when mutual cooperation was not an option.  It is important that the U.S. maintain a central role in the promotion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and other Israeli-Arab negotiations.  The U.S. should be involved in facilitating negotiations, but cannot impose solutions.  Negotiations with the Palestinians will involve serious and difficult compromises by both Israel and the Palestinians. A realistic final Israeli-Palestinian agreement will involve territorial compromise by Israel and the creation of a final border between Israel and a Palestinian state that will be consistent with demographic realities and providing viable security guarantees for Israel.  In a final agreement, Palestinian refugees will go to the new independent Palestinian state, and not to Israel.    

A final Israeli-Palestinian agreement will include provisions for the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state.  The Palestinian call for a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to their former homes inside Israel is not appropriate given historical and current realities, given that the refugee problem was caused by the Arab attack on Israel in 1948 and that an influx of millions of Palestinians into Israel would pose a threat to its national security and upset the country’s demographic makeup.  An independent Palestinian state should provide a home to the Palestinian refugee population.  Any international effort regarding Palestinian refugees must also acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands who were made refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict.   From 1948-1951 as many as 800,000 Jews were expelled from their native Arab nations or forced to flee as a result of state-sponsored anti-Zionist violence. They left behind their property and the lives they had built in these lands over hundreds of years. 

Jerusalem has always been the heart and soul of the Jewish people. Under Israeli sovereignty, Jerusalem has flourished as a Jewish city open to and respectful of all other religions for which it holds special significance. As Congress and successive administrations recognize, every country has the right to designate its own capital and Israel has designated Jerusalem. As peace talks on final status issues, including Jerusalem, proceed, we believe it is imperative that the U.S. government recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the U.S. Embassy be moved there from its current location in Tel Aviv.   

Enhanced security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel strengthens Israel’s ability to take risks for peace as well as to reduce its dependence on U.S. economic assistance. The U.S. must continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and help ensure that Israel retains its qualitative military edge to promote its security, and to minimize the strategic dangers as well as fiscal costs of steps toward peace. 

An impediment to lasting peace is the appalling anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement prevalent in the Muslim and Arab world.  The result of decades of demonized depictions of Jews in the media and widespread conspiracy theories involving Jews and Israel is that the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East equate Jews with images of evil, seeing them as threatening, subhuman figures to be feared, hated and fought against.  As Israel engages in negotiations with the Palestinians and others, the dissemination of hate against Jews and Israel makes the already difficult road to peace even more so. Achieving breakthroughs depends not only on political leaders taking bold steps but preparing the public for peace. The U.S. must make clear to Arab leaders that their silence in the face of anti-Semitism in their media makes them complicit in the perpetuation of this incitement. The U.S. should urge heads of state and government ministers to speak out against the use of anti-Semitic images in the media. The U.S. must also ensure that commitments to combat incitement be included in Israeli-Arab negotiations.   

While pursuing peace, Israel must simultaneously confront serious security challenges.  Israel has endured years of suicide terrorism targeting Israeli civilians in population centers by the Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others. Since its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Hamas has launched scores of rocket, missile and mortar attacks every day on civilian centers in southern Israel, most frequently the city of Sderot, causing injury, death and property damage, and leaving the population fearful and traumatized.  To protect its population, Israel has been required to undertake a number of defensive measures, including targeted military action, and the construction of a security barrier. The U.S. must continue to support Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens from terrorism.  

Israel is committed to negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, whose leadership has recognized Israel’s existence and has committed to a negotiating process.  Hamas, however, which has controlled Gaza since June 2007, and enjoyed electoral success in 2005 and 2006, is committed to the elimination of Israel’s existence by whatever means necessary. This commitment is articulated in the Hamas Covenant – which is also replete with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories – and is regularly reiterated by its leadership. In June 2008, Israel and Hamas commenced an Egyptian-mediated “period of calm,” although Hamas continues to violate the agreement and send rockets into Israel.  The U.S. must maintain its policy of isolating Hamas until it meets the requirements outlined by the Quartet:  Hamas must recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce the use of violence and terrorism, and accept previously negotiated Israeli-Palestinian agreements.  The U.S. must also continue to press for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006 and continues to be held by them somewhere in Gaza.  

Since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, Hezbollah – a terrorist organization funded and supported by Iran and Syria – has continually engaged in unprovoked attacks on Israel and has steadily built up its military arsenal and capabilities.  Hezbollah terrorists kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and held them captive for two years without providing information about their fate until a prisoner exchange in July 2008.  Hezbollah attacked Israel in a cross-border raid, killing eight Israeli soldiers, and sparking a month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, known as the Second Lebanon War.  Hezbollah continues to fail to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ordered the release of the kidnapped soldiers and requires Hezbollah to disarm, and calls on Lebanon to assert its sovereignty over the entire nation.  The U.S. must continue to end material support for Hezbollah from Syria and Iran.  The U.S. must also work to ensure that Hezbollah does not operate as a de-facto terrorist militia in Lebanon.

 

Printable Version
ADL Recommendations to RNC and DNC Platforms (.pdf)
Related Press Release
ADL Submits Policy Priorities to Democratic and Republican Platform Committees (7/21/08)
RELATED
Statements on Issues Related to the 2008 Campaign
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