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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Op/Ed: A Chance for a Resolution
By Sidney Topol
The worsening situation in the Middle East during the past year has paradoxically cracked open a window for real movement toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recognition that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue to fester and worsen has been building in Congress, with unprecedented resolutions on Israeli-Palestinian peace introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), and in the House by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.). The essential importance of action on this issue has even finally surfaced in the White House, which is now planning an international peace conference, targeted to take place in Annapolis, Md., on Nov. 26. The entire American Jewish community must put itself solidly behind these efforts!
A key element of both the Senate and House resolutions is support for a special envoy who will be dedicated to pushing for progress. Senate Resolution 321 also expresses strong support for making the achievement of a negotiated two-state resolution to the Israel-Palestinian crisis a high priority in Washington.
I am proud that Massachusetts is one of eight states where both senators have signed on as co-sponsors to Feinstein-Lugar, with a total of 36 senators now co-sponsoring the resolution, and that seven Massachusetts representatives have signed on to House Resolution 143, which is now up to 52 co-sponsors. If our elected officials are drawn to take such steps in support of peace for Israel, can we in the Jewish community do no less? The Jewish community must strongly champion these resolutions, as well as carefully follow the developing agenda for a productive international peace conference.
As the Bush Administration draws to a close, it is heartening that steps are being taken to convene this international peace conference to stimulate movement toward resolving the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. Significantly, the conference is slated to include key regional players – not only the negotiating partners – Israel and the Palestinians. Jordan, Egypt, and even Saudi Arabia and Syria appear likely to be invited and attend. To make the conference the true starting point for resolving the conflict – ultimately the only way to assure Israel’s peace and security – the U.S. has to take a strong, proactive role. Therefore, it is crucial that there be a dedicated high caliber U.S. Peace Envoy on the ground in the Middle East, as called for by the two resolutions, to keep the momentum flowing – before, during, and after the conference.
Senate Res. 321 and House Res. 143 on Israeli-Palestinian peace demonstrate the growing realization in Congress that the conflict must be resolved – and soon. The planned international peace conference is a precious opportunity to make this happen. We in the Jewish community should insist that the U.S. do its best to ensure that the opportunity is not missed – Israel’s future safety and security depend on it.
In today’s circumstances, this is the most pro-Israel thing we can do.
Sidney Topol is a national board member of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and Americans for Peace Now. He is the former Chairman and CEO of Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. and a past board member of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies.