February 24, 2004
The JCPA supports a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Difficult compromises will be required to ensure a solution that will allow both peoples to live in peace and dignity – and to fulfill their national aspirations within the context of peaceful co-existence and mutual recognition. Indeed, any resolution of the conflict will require both sides coming to mutual agreement on numerous contentious issues.
Peace will not come until there is a commitment on the part of the Palestinians to move quickly to destroy the terrorist infrastructure, to foreswear violence and to express their grievances without the use of terrorism and other forms of violence. The primary responsibility for ending the deadly violence rests with the Palestinian leadership. At the same time, we support the Israeli government’s continued articulation of its openness to compromise, following a cessation of violence, in order to encourage Palestinian moderation.
We mourn the loss of innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives, the enormous suffering and the human toll the conflict has had on both societies. At the same time, we condemn the decision of the Palestinian leadership to use deadly terrorist acts as a tool to achieve political goals. The continued failure of that leadership to prepare its people for peace, to stop the teaching of hate and to abandon, finally, its goal of destroying the state of Israel, has contributed enormously to the deteriorating conditions in the area.
Israel possesses the inalienable right of any sovereign nation to defend its citizens from violent attack. Israel’s response targets Palestinian armed forces, the terrorist infrastructure, and terrorist leaders with the aim of stopping attacks against Israeli citizens. We support Israel’s efforts to suppress terrorism by any reasonable means. We further support Israeli government efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the non-combatant population.
Israel, just like many other nations, is struggling with how best to respond to terrorism. We support Israeli efforts to exercise great caution to minimize the deaths of innocent Palestinians, including those who are caught in the cross-fire when Palestinian forces intentionally position themselves among civilian populations. We support the Israeli government’s continued efforts to prevent any vigilante actions by individuals directed against Palestinians and/or Israelis in the West Bank, Gaza, or in Israel proper.
We support the vital continued facilitating role the United State has historically played in the Middle East process. We urge active efforts by the American government to work with Israeli, Palestinian, and other Middle Eastern leaders to find common ground and a road that will lead to a cessation of violence and a resumption of negotiations, while ensuring that no pressure is placed on Israel to take steps that would jeopardize its citizens’ security and decrease prospects for peace.
Comprehensive reform of the Palestinian Authority is a necessary step toward a lasting peace. We encourage members of Palestinian society to add their voices to those courageous individuals who seek comprehensive reforms in the Palestinian Authority and who question their leadership’s continued support for terrorism. We further endorse President Bush’s call for such reforms as a necessary step toward the possibility of enduring peace.
We support the special relationship between the United States and Israel as two allied democracies in an international campaign against terrorism. As both countries confront an extensive network of Islamic extremist groups, including Al Qaeda, that vow destruction here and abroad, we express our gratitude to the United States for its strong support of Israel, including its growing recognition of the common threat faced by both nations.
We call on the United States and the international community to intensify their efforts to pressure those specific governments that finance and glorify terrorism to cease all support of terrorism. We also urge sustained efforts to encourage political, educational and economic reform in Arab and Muslim states as well as Palestinian society, to develop democratic, pluralistic, free and open societies with a commitment to the rule of law and human rights.
We express our outrage about the continuous hateful anti-Semitism conveyed through government-controlled media, religious institutions, and schools in much of the Arab and Islamic world, including the Palestinian Authority. We call upon the Administration to pay close attention to incitement in the Arab media.
We urge American Jews to maintain a strong sense of unity and solidarity with the people of Israel, while recognizing that within this solidarity there is a diversity of views on some matters of Israeli government policy. We welcome that diversity as healthy debate provided that it is not aimed at weakening American support so critical for Israel’s security.
The JCPA encourages its member agencies to share these positions and views with members of the Jewish community, U.S. and Israeli officials, and opinion-molders in the general community.