Middle East Peace Process (Executive Committee 1995)

by Jared Feldman

The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC) reaffirms its strong support of the peace process and efforts by the Rabin government to achieve a lasting peace with durable security for the Israeli people.

 

We welcome the recent historic Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This is an important milestone. For the first time, Palestinians will have an opportunity to manage their own affairs and freely elect their leadership. It is critical that they use the interim period to build democratic political institutions and economic structures that will enhance the quality of life for Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 

While Chairman Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority have made progress in fulfilling their previous commitments to Israel, they need to be more vigorous in their efforts to prevent terrorism and to prosecute those responsible for acts of violence. This effort should include being responsive to Israel’s requests for the transfer of individuals accused of terrorist acts. Following election of the Palestinian Council, the Palestinian National Council must be convened expeditiously in order to repeal the anti-Israel articles of the PLO Covenant as required by the Interim Agreement.

 

The continuation of United States aid to Israel at current levels is especially important as Israel takes calculated risks for peace. We also recognize that the economic and social challenges confronting the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are enormous. The Administration has demonstrated exemplary leadership in working with the international community to assist the Palestinians in meeting these challenges. We urge the U.S. Congress to contribute to the advancement of the peace process by adopting the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act (MEPFA) of 1995 and backing the Administration’s pledge of economic assistance to the Palestinians.

 

The peace process continues to provide important benefits and opportunities for Israelis as well as other peoples of the Middle East. These are manifested in a variety of ways, including enhanced cooperation at the United Nations, the upcoming international economic conferences in Jerusalem and Amman, and improvement in bilateral relations between Israel and Arab states.

 

The unwillingness thus far of Syria to enter into a serious and sustained negotiation with Israel is deeply disappointing. There can be no comprehensive peace in the region without an Israeli-Syrian agreement. We encourage President Clinton, Secretary of State Christopher and other U.S. leaders to continue their efforts to bring President Assad of Syria into the circle of peacemakers.

 

As the process moves toward negotiation of the permanent status issues, the NJCRAC reaffirms its support of the Government of Israel’s commitment, reflecting an overwhelming consensus in Israel and among American Jews, to maintain Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of -Israel. As the capital, Jerusalem is the proper location of the U.S. embassy in Israel.

 

The current peace process, which raises existential issues for the people of Israel, has generated controversy in Israel and within segments of the American Jewish community. Vigorous political opposition in Israel and responsible dissent by members of the American Jewish community are legitimate expressions of disagreement with Israeli government policy. But violence, threats and namecalling from any quarter are unacceptable. Such behavior should be repudiated unequivocally by all responsible Israeli and American Jewish leaders irrespective of their views on the peace process.

 

The Jewish community relations field commits itself in the year ahead to work intensively on behalf of the peace process and to encourage debate of peace-process issues in an atmosphere of civility and mutual respect.

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About the Author


Jared Feldman