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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Why is Brit Tzedek calling for a ceasefire?
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Over the past several weeks, the tense equilibrium between Israel and her neighbors has disintegrated at a frightening pace, with no sign of abating. Israeli soldiers remain kidnapped, rockets continue to fall on northern Israel, Israeli military actions in Gaza and Lebanon have caused incredible loss of civilians lives and damage to infrastructure, and Israeli ground forces have recently begun crossing the border into southern Lebanon.
In order to stem the rising tide of violence in the Middle East, Brit Tzedek calls for an immediate ceasefire and the return of Israeli soldiers in the ongoing conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza. We believe this is in the best interests of Israel.
Why is a ceasefire in Israel's best interests?
We believe that an immediate ceasefire and the return of Israeli soldiers, brokered by US and international mediators, is critical to both short and long-term peace and security for Israel.
- The continuation of hostilities threatens Israeli civilians with further rocket attacks, it places the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers in yet greater jeopardy, and it pushes the region daily closer to all-out war.
- Israel’s military actions in Gaza and Lebanon further alienate Israel from its neighbors, ratcheting up regional animosity. In Lebanon, the civilian population began this conflict with strong distaste for Hezbollah, but in recent days has begun to rally around the group.
- We do not support a policy of continuing warfare in order to completely destroy Hezbollah. Eighteen years of Israeli occupation of the “Security Zone” in southern Lebanon demonstrated that Hezbollah cannot be effectively subdued through military means, and that the efforts to do so inevitably cause incredible devastation to the Lebanese people.
- With heavy damage to civilian lives and infrastructure (such as Israel’s targeted destruction of the Gaza power plant and Beirut airport), the existing humanitarian crisis in Gaza has gotten steadily worse, while a second crisis has begun to develop in Lebanon (now over 300 dead and 500,000 displaced). Under such circumstances, moderate pro-peace forces are weakening and extremist anti-Israel views are gaining in popular support – at great risk to long-term Israeli security.
What is the role of the US in achieving a ceasefire?
Brit Tzedek calls on the Bush Administration, in concert with the international community, to pursuing all possible diplomatic means to facilitate a ceasefire and the release of Israeli soldiers.
- US engagement could include sending a high-level envoy such as Secretary Rice, working closely with UN or other international mediators, or supporting an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.
- We welcome Secretary Rice’s recent visit to the region as a sign of increased US engagement. However, we are disappointed that the US has opposed calls for an immediate ceasefire. We call for Secretary Rice’s quick return with renewed authority to pursue substantive negotiations, in concert with the international community, towards a ceasefire and the release of Israeli soldiers.
Brit Tzedek’s mandate concerns the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; why is the organization focusing now on Lebanon?
The death and destruction that currently mark the daily lives of Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese alike is a tragedy which must be brought to a close. A ceasefire on all fronts will allow tempers to cool and wounds to heal while durable, just solutions are found, allowing the parties to find their way back to peace talks, the inevitable preamble to any true resolution of the conflict.
- Brit Tzedek’s commitment to Israel’s well-being through a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of our larger vision of achieving an Israel that is strengthened and secured through peace with all its neighbors. Thus, we seek an immediate and peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in Lebanon as well as in Gaza.
- We recognize that Israel’s conflicts with the Palestinians and Hezbollah are distinctly different. Though we condemn all acts of terror against Israel, the bloodshed in Gaza is rooted in the lack of credible peace process geared toward a two-state solution, whereas the fighting in Lebanon is the result of Hezbollah’s unprovoked breach of an internationally recognized border.
- Only a sustainable ceasefire, enforcement of UN Resolution 1559 (calling for withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanese soil), and the bolstering of the democratic Lebanese government can achieve Hezbollah’s true marginalization. We welcome proposals for an international peacekeeping force to assist in these efforts.
- In addition, the ongoing violence in Lebanon moves Israel and the Palestinians yet further away from a negotiated two-state settlement, the only scenario that offers a chance for long-term peace and security for Israel.