Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Perspectives from the President
January 24, 2003
NY Daily News
Israelis Want Peace and Security: Only Mitzna Can Deliver
By Marcia Freedman
The following was published on 1/24/03 in NY Daily News.
Even Ariel Sharon understands that the price of peace and security is "painful concessions" to the Palestinians, including the establishment of a Palestinian state. But he has also said, very clearly, that those concessions do not include dismantling settlements. The implications of this disingenuous position is that Ariel Sharon will acceed to the establishment of a Palestinian state on only 40% of the West Bank, something the Palestinians will never accept. The violence of the Intifada and the harsh Israeli military response will continue, and there will be more death and injury on both sides. Whatever Sharon may say, there will be no peace and security.
Sharon's opponent, Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna, has proposed a clear alternative. He has stated that if he heads the next Israeli government, he will immediately move the settlements in the Gaza Strip to the Negev. He will immediately begin negotiations with the Palestinians over a final agreement and if, after one year, it cannot be achieved, he will unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank and establish a secure and defensible border whose final determination will be achieved when and if it becomes possible to negotiate once again.
Most important, Mitzna has proclaimed publicly that under no circumstances would the Mitzna-led Labor Party enter into a unity government with the Likud. This means that, win or lose, a sizeable bloc in the Knesset will represent the 60% - 70% of Israelis who favor a two-state solution and the evacuation of most settlements.
Finally, Mitzna has publicly stated that he would, for the first time, bring the Arab parties into his coalition government, thus ensuring that this large minority (almost 20% of Israel's citizenry) will have a major stake in Israel's peace, security, and economic recovery. This demonstration of willingness to accept Israel's Arab minority as full citizens will open doors to Israel's acceptance by the surrounding Arab states, which have already expressed their willingness to make peace with Israel on condition that the occupation of Palestinian lands ends and the settlements are evacuated.
The direction in which Mitzna is pointing is the only way forward to long-lasting peace and security for Israel's people. It can also lead toward addressing a key American objective: geopolitical stability in the Middle East. The last thing that we Americans want is a Middle East that continues to sit on the brink of all-out regional war. Even regime change in Iraq won't fix this problem.
It is unlikely to happen as a result of the current election, but regime change in Israel, through a democratic electoral process, holds out the only prospect of peace and hope in this highly volatile region.