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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Obama Makes Israeli-Palestinian Peace Possible: Seize the Moment!

Intermountian Jewish News

October 2, 2009

By Les Canges, Colorado Chapter

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, began the year 5770 by flying to New York and shaking hands publicly with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. There were no apples with honey. It's not time for any sweet celebration yet.

But it was an important step in the long, arduous process that must eventually lead to peace.

Netanyahu reaffirmed that he is committed to negotiations that will lead to an independent Palestinian state, living alongside Israel, with security fully guaranteed to both sides.

He has acknowledged what more and more Jews acknowledge every day: the two-state solution and a comprehensive, regional peace agreement are the only way to ensure Israel's long-term security as a Jewish, democratic homeland.

Netanyahu took some political risk in recognizing that fact publicly. He took more political risk in shaking hands with Abbas and promising to work with the Palestinian leader in the joint effort of peacemaking.

It's not what we might have expected from the head of the Likud Party. He deserves respect for the distance he has traveled to serve his nation and his people.

But let's face it: Neither Netanyahu nor Abbas would have made that airplane journey to New York, or the political journey toward negotiations, if they had not been pushed by an American president deeply committed to Middle East peace and to staying personally involved in the process until it reaches a successful conclusion.

Barack Obama knows what should be clear to all of us: The status quo is unsustainable. It saps Israel's spiritual energy now and raises serious questions about the status of the Jewish state in the future. It leaves Palestinians increasingly disappointed and frustrated.

And it works against the best interests of the US in the region. That's why the president has kept both sides actively talking about the negotiations to come.

Now it's time to move beyond talking about process and begin talking in detail about the shape of the peace. That means addressing tough questions and making difficult choices.

It's not clear that the leaders of Israel and Palestine, on their own, would or could make those choices. So President Obama has come forward to do what others cannot -- to take the bold steps necessary to resolve the conflict.

With the continued wide gaps between the parties readily apparent, with the window of opportunity for a two-state solution rapidly closing, and with little political leadership coming from the parties or the region, the only hope for progress lies with strong, sustained U.S. leadership.

Ultimately, of course, the decision to end the violence and move to a more peaceful, secure future rests in the hands Israelis and Palestinians, the people who have so far paid the price of conflict.

But President Obama has a unique opportunity, and a political and moral duty, to make every effort to enable the sides to reach a resolution that will serve them both.

We urge the parties and the administration to get to the negotiating table as quickly as possible with concrete plans for addressing final status issues.

But just as the president did not wait for others to act, we cannot wait for the president to act on his own. He can serve the cause of peace only if he has the political wind at his back. That's why we say, "We've Got Your Back, Mr. President."

We urge American Jews to give the president and his administration the strong support that they need and deserve.

We invite all to sign a pledge (atbtvshalom.org) to back committed and persistent American leadership in support of a negotiated twostate solution.

The opportunity for peace is not limitless. If we would see President Obama succeed, if we would see a Jewish state safe and secure for many new years to come, if we would see Israelis and Palestinians sharing in the sweet taste of peace, we must act now.

Les Canges is the Colorado Brit Tzedek v'Shalom chapter leader.

 

 

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