Middle East Peace Process (Plenum 1995)

by Administrator

The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC) reaffirms its strong support of the Israeli government’s peace initiatives and wishes it continued success in building upon the dramatic achievements of this past year. Principal among these achievements was the historic signing of a treaty and establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and Jordan. The immediate initiatives undertaken by these two neighbors to effect a ” warm peace, involving joint development projects, trade, tourism and cultural exchanges,” are most heartening.

 

Official diplomatic and economic relationships are beginning to develop between Israel and other Arab states as well, including Morocco, Tunisia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Djibouti. We urge these nations to complete expeditiously the process of normalization with Israel, and to join Egypt and Jordan in establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel. There also has been welcome progress toward ending the Arab boycott, particularly the decision of the Gulf Cooperation Council to discontinue implementation of the secondary boycott. We believe, however, that the objectives of peace and regional economic development require nothing less than an official termination of all boycott activity by states committed to the success of this process.

 

During this past year, there have been significant advances in the Israel-Palestinian negotiating track, including the transfer of additional administrative responsibilities from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Nevertheless, the peace process has continued to be burdened with periodic crises and has been challenged by an escalation of terrorism from Islamic extremist groups opposed to reconciliation with Israel. The statement issued following the historic summit in Cairo, in which Egyptian President Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan and Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat jointly condemned violence in the region and pledged to seek an end to terrorist acts, is a welcome development. However, words alone are not enough. Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority now must follow through immediately on their commitments by taking more assertive measures against terrorism, including the confiscation of weapons in the hands of Islamic extremist groups, and the arrest and prosecution of those who have committed acts of violence. We also urge the Palestinians to implement their commitment to repeal the PLO covenant which calls for Israel’s elimination. At the same time, in understanding the importance to the peace process of strengthening the Palestinian Authority, we call upon it and the international community to fulfill earlier pledges so that necessary economic support to improve the standard of living in the Gaza Strip and West Bank can be forthcoming.

 

While recent negotiations between Israel and Syria apparently resulted in some forward movement, the principal obstacle remains President Assad’s reluctance to clearly and publicly assert his intention to achieve a genuine peace with Israel, and to delineate the nature of that peace. President Assad also must demonstrate the seriousness of his commitment to peace by ending the unfettered operation of Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in Damascus and areas under Syrian control in Lebanon.

 

Recognizing the importance of a stable Middle East to U.S. national interests, the Clinton Administration has been playing an important role in facilitating the peace negotiations, especially in regard to the Israel-Syrian track. The parties reportedly have begun preliminary discussions regarding a possible stationing of an international monitoring contingent on the Golan Heights which might be one element of a comprehensive agreement. A premature attempt to formulate U.S. policy on this issue may complicate the already sensitive and complex negotiations between Israel and Syria. Implications of U.S. involvement in this or any other kind of international effort should be examined carefully when a specific proposal is presented. We are confident that the Administration and the Congress will continue to assist the parties in their efforts to reach and then implement an agreement.

 

These peacemaking initiatives continue to be opposed by radical groups and states in the region, some of which, most notably Iran, possess growing conventional and non-conventional military capabilities. We urge the United States to lead the international community in a concerted and effective campaign against these threats to regional and global stability.

 

We are confident that the new leadership of the 104th Congress will continue the longstanding tradition of bipartisan support for Israel. The NJCRAC looks forward to cooperating both with the Congress and the Administration in strengthening U.S.-Israel relations and fostering peace and security throughout the Middle East.

Dissent: While the Jewish War Veterans of the USA supports the peace process, we dissent expressly from that portion of the resolution dealing with the Golan, since it prejudges the issue subsisting between the parties. JWV specifically objects to the employment and deployment of United States troops on the Golan without there being an American national security purpose and a defined withdrawal date.

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