Crisis in the Middle East

Crisis in the Middle East
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Israeli Leaders Address the American Jewish Community

Likud Chairman Ariel Sharon Addresses ADL: "We need a multi stage plan - we need to look at a long term plan developing relationships with Palestinians in the areas of security, the economy, and education", November 16, 2000

In a briefing to ADL leadership on November 16, Chairman of the Likud Party, Ariel Sharon addressed the problems facing Israel during the current crisis and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Mr. Sharon said that the Oslo process was obsolete, and called for a new approach, with a multi-stage plan for dealing with the Palestinians. He criticized Prime Minister Ehud Barak for his negotiation strategy with the Palestinians and accused the Prime Minister of attempting to unilaterally make a decision to divide Jerusalem. Mr. Sharon declared that "there cannot be compromise on the Temple Mount - this is the heart of the Jewish people." Referring to Prime Minister Barak’s calls for taking a "time-out," Mr. Sharon said "I don’t like the idea of a time-out. We have to go on an entirely different plane. We need a multi-stage plan for developing a relationship between ourselves and the Arabs." In response to his critics who call him a "general looking for war," Mr. Sharon said that he is fully committed to peace, but explained that peace entails compromises, which the Palestinians have been reluctant to make.

Among Ariel Sharon’s comments:

  • "If Israel will be weakened or disappear, Jews around the world will not be able to live the lives they live now . . . There is one tiny country in the world where the Jews have the right to defend themselves by themselves - this is something we can’t lose."

  • "Everyone speaks about Palestinians rights, but what about Jewish rights? There is the basic right of Jews to the land of Israel."

  • "I think we need to avoid escalation, but we cannot live the way we are living now because that will lead to real escalation."

  • "We need to put the onus on the Palestinians - we need to show them what we are willing to do, and what the Palestinians are not willing to accept."

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Excerpts from Remarks by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities, Chicago, November 13, 2000  

"The road to peace may be long; it will sometimes be very treacherous. But if we stand united, holding firm to our vital national interests, then we will prevail. We must understand the fundamental strategic fact: that only through a negotiated settlement can a durable peace be achieved that will enhance our security, guarantee our national interests, and end this tragic conflict once and for all. There is no other alternative. This is our vision: we will leave no stone unturned in our attempt to achieve peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors. But at the same time we will protect our vital interests, our internal unity, and our standing in the world - if a violent confrontation is imposed on us.

Our goals are clear: First, to secure a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians through negotiations - not one that imposed through violence. The second goal is to protect, in such an agreement, Israel’s security and other vital interests, while creating a framework for cooperation and good neighborly relations with the Palestinians.

Our future dialogue with the Palestinians, when it happens, will have to take into account the lessons drawn from the wave of violence, initiated and perpetuated by the Palestinians in recent weeks."

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Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shlomo Ben-Ami Addresses ADL, 11/2/00

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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