Crisis in the Middle East

Crisis in the Middle East
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Israel Update:
Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shlomo Ben-Ami to ADL: "We Seek Reasonable Peace Based on Defensive Disengagement", November 2, 2000

In an address to ADL’s National Commission on Thursday, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shlomo Ben-Ami described the events of the past few weeks as shocking and disappointing, but said that ultimately the only option for Israel is to return to the negotiating table. He called upon the international community to insist that Arafat engage in true negotiations, negotiations in which Arafat does not and cannot resort to violence. Referring to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat, he said “We expect that if you can’t reach a deal, your offer a counter-proposal, and not resort to violence.” Mr. Ben-Ami also appealed to ADL leadership and the American Jewish community to continue to support Israel.

Among Minister Ben-Ami’s comments:

  • "We speak no more of a new Middle East, we speak of reasonable prece based on disengagement of two social and political systems." "Many who have spent a lifetime trying to cultivate relations with the Palestinians, to strike a reasonable deal, have today a sense of moral defeat; the world of our lifetime has been put under a question mark." But, Mr. Ben Ami said, "We do not have the luxury of saying ‘we give up hope.’ There is no solution that isn’t political."

  • Leaders on both sides have a responsibility to address their respective peoples and call for a cessation of hostilities, but unfortunately Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority has not done this. Instead, there has been a massive release of Hamas and Islamnic Jihad terrorists by the Palestinian Authority. After referring to this morning’s bombing in Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem, the Foreign Minister said, “Nevertheless, a state, a country, cannot allow itself to move away from its strategic target - which is to reach a reasonable peace agreement, not a celestial one. We speak no more of a new Middle East, but of a reasonable peace."

  • "Violence is a political asset of the Palestinians so cessation of hostilities is the best way to take this asset away from Arafat."

  • "It is not Israel that needs to restore relations with international organizations, it is international organizations that need to convince Israel that Israel can get a fair deal."

  • It is important that the U.S. stand by Israel at the difficult time. There is a moral affinity between these two democracies and a belief in the equality of man and a just society. The American Jewish community is the staunchest ally of Israel by defending Israel, American Jews are defending the interests of democracy and the interests on the U.S.

  • The initiatives put forward by Israel at Camp David in July bolsters Israel’s position from criticism. "We gave Palestinians a reasonable alternative and they cannot come to us and say that we only speak language of force."

  • "We may differ with regard to the kind of solution but do not differ on the necessity of a solution. Peace divides, war unites. This Government was willing to put forth far-reaching concessions."

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