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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Editorial: The time for peace is now
The Boston Jewish Advocate
By Sidney Topol, Boston Chapter
I have written before to urge American Jews to not be discouraged and to continue to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. With the election of Barack Obama and a new prime minister soon to be elected in Israel, I once more affirm that this is a time for great hope.
Hampered by violence, disputes over unabated settlement construction, the future of Jerusalem and Hamas control of Gaza, the peace process re-launched at Annapolis one year ago has not yet reached its goal. Still, there is every reason to believe that negotiations will be accelerated and, with a highcaliber special envoy on the ground, driven to a successful conclusion after the new administrations are in place.
But the window for achieving a viable two-state solution won't stay open indefinitely. Without tangible progress, Israel risks an increase in the influence of radical Islamic movements, a potentially nuclear Iran and moderate Palestinians losing hope and opting for a onestate solution instead, which would lead to the death of the Zionist dream.
The most pro-Israel action that American Jewish leadership, right, left and center, can take is to urge presidentelect Obama to make Israeli- Palestinian peace a high priority within his first 100 days in office.
According to Tzipi Livni's Nov. 13 interview aired on CBS, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and the Arab world have all adopted the idea of a two-state solution with a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state as the best solution to the crisis.
As a further indication of positive movement, even Hamas recently reiterated, in a proposal that Israel rejected, that it is willing to accept a state within its 1967 borders and offer Israel a long term hudna or truce. While quite short of recognition, this is an important statement that represents a moderation in Hamas' attitude toward Israel.
And both Livni and Abbas have stressed they will continue uninterrupted and direct bilateral negotiations into next year.
The most encouraging news, however, is a report in The London Sunday Times of Nov. 16, that president-elect Obama "intends to throw his support behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League and backed by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and leader of the ruling Kadima party." (Dennis Ross, one of Obama's chief advisors, quickly denied Obama ever endorsed the plan.)
Still, the plan is backed by a bipartisan group of senior U.S. foreign policy advisors and calls for recognition of Israel by the Arab world and the normalization of relationships in exchange forIsrael's withdrawal to pre-1967 borders. This initiative was commended at a UN Conference last week by Shimon Peres.
I urge all American Jews to acknowledge that a viable Palestinian state is necessary for Israel's peace and security, and to support the tough compromises that will have to be made on borders,Jerusalem and the relocation of the settlers. What is at stake is the long-term security, and even survival, of a democratic Jewish state.
Sidney Topol is a board member of Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom