Following the speeches delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today and by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, APN today released this statement:
Speaking before the UN General Assembly, flinging accusations and mutual recriminations, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas revealed, with striking clarity, the vast gulf that separates them with respect to their views on the way forward to resolve the conflict that continues to consume both of their peoples.
The speeches of these two leaders also revealed a simple truth: Today, the question is not whether Israelis or Palestinians have a "partner" for peace on the other side, or whether now is the time to launch yet another empty peace process, or whether energies should be invested in making the indefensible status quo more stable. Rather, after more than two decades of peace efforts, after more than 47 years of occupation and conflict, the question today is whether the international community is ready to be a real partner to Israelis and Palestinians in aiding them – and, indeed, pressing them, with meaningful benefits and consequences – to end this conflict.
Even before these speeches, the utter failure of diplomacy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was clear. Years of internationally-backed negotiations and prodding have failed to end the conflict or even bring the sides closer to a mutually-acceptable, durable solution. Rather, hollow diplomacy has permitted facts on the ground – whether with respect to security threats to Israel, or settlement threats to the two-state solution – to hijack hope and, with it, the prospects for a better future for both peoples.
The United States and the world today face a myriad of enormous challenges – from the threat posed by ISIS, to public health threats like Ebola, to the devastating impacts of poverty and global climate change. These challenges demand a unity of cause from the international community, and present an opportunity to bridge longstanding differences in the face of shared threats. That same unity of cause is equally vital to resolving the far less daunting, complex challenge of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And make no mistake: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is eminently resolvable; what is lacking is not a solution, but the political will – of the parties and the international community – to achieve it.
As President Obama correctly pointed out last week, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the cause of all the ills in the Middle East or the world, nor will its resolution be a silver bullet that cures every problem the world faces. However, the perpetuation of this conflict fuels intolerance and extremism around the world, and ending it would send a resounding message of the power of hope, peace, and humanity over hatred, extremism, and violence. Resolving it is not only in the national security interest of the United States and the entire international community, but primarily in the interest of the state of Israel if it is to exist in the future as a Jewish state and a democracy.
Recognizing this, now is the time for the international community to demonstrate that it is not a bystander, but rather a full partner, invested in and committed to ending this conflict in the near term – for the sake not only of Israelis and Palestinians, who like people everywhere have a right to self-determination, security, and dignity – but for the sake of the world.
For an analysis of Netanyahu's and Abbas' UNGA speeches, check out Yossi Alpher's column on APN's web site: http://peacenow.org/entry.php?id=8290#.VCmoF_ldV68