Despite UN, Israelis Maintain Commitment to Peace

Washington, Sept. 19 - Even as the Palestinians bypass negotiations to get a one-sided vote on statehood from the United Nations, Israeli officials are maintaining their commitment to a negotiated peace with the Palestinian people.

“We are ready to enter into peace negotiations with our Palestinian neighbors, if they so desire,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday (Sept. 18).  “In my opinion, after the dust settles and after everything that is happening at the UN, in the end, the Palestinians will regain their composure, I hope, and will shelve these moves that are designed to bypass negotiations.  They will return to the table in order to achieve peace and security both for us and our neighbors."

Since the last round of direct peace talks broke down in September 2010 over Palestinian preconditions, Israeli officials have stressed that they fully support Palestinian statehood, but that a unilateral UN campaign hurts efforts to achieve that goal.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, at a conference sponsored by The Israel Project on Monday Sept. 19, said that “it’s a shame to wait to restart peace negotiations when the paradigm of two states living side by side in peace and security is accepted by the parties.” he said.

Meridor urged the Palestinian leadership to begin peace talks in New York this week.

Other Israeli leaders and diplomats have expressed the same viewpoint. “Israel wants peace,” Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told CNN Monday, reiterating that Netanyahu would negotiate with the Palestinian leadership “anywhere anytime, without preconditions, on the basis of territory for peace.”

Below is a summary of Israeli efforts for peace throughout the state’s 63 years of existence:

1948- The UN proposes to split the land creating one Jewish and one Arab State, Israel accepts the proposal but the Arabs reject it and launch a war to eliminate Israel.

1979- Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin sign Historic Peace Treaty in Washington and Israel withdraws formally of Sinai.

1993- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yaser Arafat sign Oslo Accords. Israel recognizes the right of Palestinians to create a state.

1994- The Peace Treaty is signed between Israel and Jordan culminating one year of negotiations.

2000- At Camp David Israel offers to create a Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza. Arafat rejects the offer.

2005- Israel removes more than 9,000 settlers and all of its troops from the Gaza Strip, giving the Palestinians complete control.

2007- Israel attempts to forge peace through U.S. - sponsored peace talks in Annapolis, MD.

2009- In an effort to advance peace talks, Israel voluntarily enacts a 10-month freeze on all settlement building in the West Bank.

2011- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly restates commitment to negotiating a peace agreement with the Palestinians including a two-state solution.

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