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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
December 16, 2005
Hyde-Capps Letter to Secretary Condoleezza Rice, December 16 2005
We are writing to commend you for achieving an historic agreement between Israel, the Palestinians, Egypt, and the Quartet on the Gaza border crossing. The successful opening of the Gaza crossing on November 25th is a vital step on the path toward Israeli security, economic stability and growth for the Palestinians, political stability in Gaza, and the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The arrangements you helped broker in the November 15th accord are enabling Palestinians, for the first time, to control entry and exit from Gaza, via Rafah. They will also lead to the upgrading and expansion of other crossing points between Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, and the expediting of the export of this season's agricultural goods from Gaza. In addition, the accord paves the way for the passage of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank, and should lead to a reduction in the obstacles to movement within the West Bank. The agreement will permit the Palestinians to begin to construct a seaport, and recognizes the importance of continued discussion regarding the re-opening of a Palestinian airport. The components of this breakthrough will dramatically increase investment in Gaza by the private sector as well as financial assistance from donor countries.
All of these developments will take place in the context of providing for Israeli security. This includes, among other things, the presence of the European Union as third-party monitors at Rafah, the provision of high-tech security equipment and appropriate training for personnel working at border crossings, coordination between Israel and the Palestinians with respect to travel of certain individuals, and explicit recognition in the agreement that "security is a prime and continuing concern for Israel and that appropriate arrangements to ensure security will be adopted." The agreement also stipulates that security services from Israel, the PA, the U.S., and Egypt will continue to coordinate on security issues and will participate in the security working group.Your role in the achievement of this accord, and the subsequent successful opening of the Gaza crossing point, clearly demonstrate the value of robust, hands-on U.S. diplomatic engagement with Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, more than three decades of Middle East peace efforts have shown that breakthroughs come only when the U.S. President or Secretary of State is personally involved. Your leadership helps reassure Israel and her people of the United States' enduring commitment to Israel's welfare and security, even as Israel takes risks for the sake of peace. At the same time, it helps deliver tangible improvements in the quality of life of the Palestinians – improvements that are fundamental to the efforts of President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to win the hearts and minds of the Palestinian people and counter the appeal of extremists. We thus hope that you will continue to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians a personal priority, including seeing through the implementation of this historic agreement.