February 18, 2002
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) reaffirms its support for the Israeli people’s historic search for peace and security, and for the efforts of the democratically elected government of Israel to fulfill that quest.
Notwithstanding continuing Palestinian terrorism, Israel’s desire for peace has never diminished. What is so urgently needed to attain that goal and to bring stability to the region is a partner for peace. Those Arab leaders who have come forward over the years, such as Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein, found a willing partner in Israel for negotiations and for a durable peace.
Our hopes for similar action from the Palestinian leadership, especially since the Madrid Conference and the signing of the Oslo Accords, have been met with repeated disappointments as Yasser Arafat continues to forsake the opportunities to achieve peace and to fulfill the aspirations of his own people. In the summer of 2000, Yasser Arafat spurned a generous, historic offer from former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, which had the backing of President Clinton. Arafat responded to that offer by unleashing a wave of terrorism. While a Palestinian state may be established one day, it cannot be attained through violence. Direct negotiations remain the only path to Arab-Israeli peace.
The Palestinian Authority, which has jurisdiction in areas where terrorist acts are planned and launched, has refused to honor its obligation to prosecute or extradite identified terrorists. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership have not seriously attempted to implement the cease-fire agreement brokered by CIA Director George Tenet, which is a necessary step for resuming negotiations according to the Mitchell Report developed by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. We support the Bush Administration’s decision to reassess its relationship with the Palestinian Authority in the wake of its attempt to smuggle 50 tons of illegal weapons from Iran aboard the Karine-A. We also support legislation that would authorize the President to place sanctions on the Palestinian Authority for continued non-compliance with its signed agreements to bring an end to violence and incitement.
Moreover, the education for peace that is so necessary to lay the groundwork for a new era in the region regrettably is lacking in the Palestinian Authority. Instead, schools, the media, and mosques preach hatred of Jews and vilification of Judaism. We urge Palestinian educators, journalists and religious leaders to promote tolerance and reconciliation. The JCPA welcomes and applauds the Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land dated January 21, 2002 and encourages further actions and statements consistent with that Declaration.
The aftermath of the horrific September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States made clear that Americans and Israelis are subject to the same terrorist atrocities, and heightened the awareness of the importance of the strong ties between the U.S. and Israel in efforts to combat terrorism and uphold democracy. We welcome the strong support of the Bush Administration in taking steps to press the Palestinian leadership to combat terrorism and we appreciate the Bush Administration’s continued firm commitment to Israel’s security in a broader regional context.