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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Letter to the Editor: Bush, the Middle East
By Allan Abrams
On the heels of November’s Annapolis peace conference, President Bush is making his first-visit to Israel and the West Bank, intending to spur negotiations for a 2008 agreement.
It is critical that he not miss this opportunity that would result in a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state. But since action, not words, is needed, he must press substantive demands moving the process forward to a negotiated two-state resolution now supported by an overwhelming majority of Israelis, Palestinians and American Jews.
As the United States pledged to “monitor the fulfillment of both sides to the road map,” it must tackle the issues that could block an agreement: a complete freeze on settlement construction including East Jerusalem, increased movement and access in the West Bank, and continued improvements in security infrastructure from the Palestinians.
It should start with the president encouraging Israel to pursue an Israeli-Hamas ceasefire through diplomacy. And it must address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by doing more than merely ensuring that Gaza’s civilian population does not starve.
After so much heartbreak, I understand why some would want to abandon the cause and consign the president’s trip — and the entire Annapolis affair — to the scrap heap of good intentions. But we do not have that choice. If this administration’s efforts (however late they come, however precarious they seem) fail to bear fruit, Israel and the Palestinians will be consigned to years of despair and deaths.