(From Cultural and Public Affairs, Embassy of Israel in Wellington)
President Trump’s Historic Visit to Israel
· President Trump’s historic visit to Israel is testimony to the strong and thriving friendship and alliance between Israel and the USA. This time-tested partnership dates to the US leading the way as the first country to recognize Israel, just 11 minutes after Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948.
· Israel looks forward to President Trump’s visit, which serves to strengthen the regional alliances against the threat of radical Islam.
· Israel welcomes President Trump’s efforts to resume the peace process with the Palestinians. Achieving peace has always been, and continues to be, our goal.
· Israel believes that the US embassy – and all embassies – should be moved to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel and the center of the Jewish people’s history and civilization for over 3,000 years. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem is the right thing to do, and will advance peace, as it sends a clear message to the Palestinians that it is time to accept Israel and establish peace.
Regional Middle-East Issues
· The primary threat to both regional and global peace and stability is militant Islam. It is driven on one front by Iran and its extremist Shiite revolution, and on the other, by ISIS and its radical Sunni ideology.
· The most pressing threat to the region is Iran. Iran is the foremost state-sponsor of terrorism around the globe: It funds terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas; it arms and trains proxy militias in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere; it sends troops to Syria to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime and its mass-murder of hundreds of thousands of citizens.
· The Israeli government and the US administration agree that the JCPOA (the nuclear deal with Iran signed in 2015) is a dangerous deal. It bolsters Iran by lifting sanctions and it sets Iran on the path to a nuclear arsenal within a mere 8-13 years when the agreement expires.
· A nuclear-armed Iran, with its extremist worldview and hegemonic ambitions, would be catastrophic for international security, and it directly threatens Israelis and Sunni Arab States.
· Any future understanding about Syria has to make sure that it prevents Iran and its proxies from getting access to Israel’s border with Syria.
· Israel is a bulwark of stability in the midst of these threats and a key partner for the United States in confronting both Iran and the Islamic State.
The Palestinian Issue
· Israel continues to call on the Palestinian leadership to direct negotiations without preconditions – but the Palestinian Authority continues to reject the calls. Israel continues to seek an end to the conflict and seeks a sustainable resolution in which Israel and its Palestinian neighbor coexist and prosper side by side.
· History proves that every time an Arab partner was genuinely willing to make peace, the Israeli people and government responded with openness, generosity and acceptance – as in the historic peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and the Kingdom of Jordan (1994). Over the decades, Israel has extended its hand in peace countless times, but the Palestinian leadership has always rejected it.
While the Oslo Agreement (1993) offered hope that the Palestinian leadership had renounced its traditional “All or Nothing” approach to the conflict, the fact is that it continued rejecting peace offers:
– In 2000, Yasser Arafat rejected Ehud Barak’s peace offer and instead launched of a violent terror campaign against Israelis (the Second Intifada) in which thousands of Israeli civilians were maimed or murdered.
– In 2008, Mahmoud Abbas rejected Ehud Olmert’s peace plan, the most far-reaching plan ever proposed, as acknowledged by former secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
– President Abbas evaded plans proposed by Former US Secretary of State John Kerry and has avoided answering President Obama’s proposal in March 2014. Moreover, he has been rejecting for years Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offers for direct peace negotiations.
While President Mahmoud Abbas has stated his readiness to enter peace talks, his actions indicate the opposite:
– The Palestinian Authority continues to glorify violence against Israelis in speeches, on social media, in interviews and more. It names schools, streets and squares after convicted terrorists who murdered Israelis. Repeatedly, it refuses to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish State within any borders. This is the core of the conflict and only when this changes can peace can be achieved.
– The Palestinian leadership cynically employs doublespeak: It uses palatable phrases, euphemisms and empty words to English-speaking audiences, and the next day promotes hate speech, violence and antisemitism to Arabic-speaking audiences – as documented in thousands of press releases, interviews and speeches made by members of the Palestinian Authority.
– The Palestinian Authority continues to transfers salaries in the amount of $300 million a year to convicted terrorists jailed in Israeli prisons and to the families of deceased terrorists.
– The culture of hate created by these and other policies perpetuates violence and prevents peace.
Ending the conflict requires of the Palestinian leadership to:
– Recognize Jewish peoplehood and Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
– Renounce violence and transform its destructive culture of intolerance that glorifies terrorism, into a constructive culture of understanding, peace and mutual respect.
– Seek in earnest peace and coexistence with Israel, in order to put an end to the conflict.
· While the Palestinian Authority merely accepts Israel’s presence, it has yet to recognize Israel as the legitimate nation-state of the Jewish people. Currently, the rejectionist narrative perpetuated by the Palestinian Authority denies the history of the Jewish people in their historic homeland, as well as their right to self-determination in the Land of Israel. Just as the Palestinian leadership expects Israel to recognize the right of the Palestinian people to a state, so too must it recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state.
· The Palestinian leadership’s long-lasting policy to deny the Jewish nation’s legitimacy in fact created and continues to perpetuate the conflict. This policy sows the seeds of continued claims against Israel and renewed wars and bloodshed, and this attitude echoes that of the extremist terrorist organization Hamas.
· Ending the conflict involves painful yet critical concessions by both parties, and a commitment to ending all further claims for the sake of peace. Any future solution to the issue of the Palestinian refugees and their offspring cannot be one that spells out the disintegration of Israel as the one and only nation-state of the Jewish people.
· Given the history of wars and terror campaign launched against Israel, Israel’s call for Palestinian demilitarization and a security arrangement that guarantees Israel’s safety from terrorism, guerilla warfare and conventional warfare is critical. The case of Gaza set a harsh precedent: After Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza (2005), it was taken over by Hamas, which, instead of building the foundation for a viable state, turned the territory into a rocket-launching pad for its offensives on Israel.
· Israel sets its policy vis-a-vis the settlements. While it has been agreed upon that this is an issue to be resolved in final status negotiations, it is in no way an obstacle to peace.