Negotiations may depend on unity and consensus

By EDWARD S. BECK
July 24, 2013 22:59

Bringing peace will involve great courage, compromise on all fronts; it will require support from parties involved, those who support parties involved.

3 minute read.



US Secretary of State John Kerry.

US Secretary of State John Kerry looking serious 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/Poo)

US Secretary of State John Kerry has just announced the planned resumption of peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. One would hope that this development would be embraced by the diverse constituencies of the world Jewish community.

However, I predict that many constituencies (liberal, centrist or conservative) will either remain silent, be critical or predict gloom and doom before the actual negotiations start. A negative attitude may contribute to the derailing of negotiations as much as anything else.

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What would be refreshing and somewhat new would be to see immediate statements from liberal, conservative and centrist groups expressing support for these efforts and putting aside internal competitive prejudices toward the other.

This is a time when the world Jewish community needs to come together and be supportive of the governments involved in negotiations. These, in turn, must try to hammer out details of a two-state solution that allows Palestinians and Israelis to live side-by-side and peacefully with one another, however the parties chose to define it in negotiations.

Now is not the time for the world and all of its constituencies to try to impose external agendas and preconditions, prejudices and predictions of failure, gloom and doom. This is a time for all groups who say they support peace for Israel to come out in favor of the processes developing right now, even if they have reservations about particulars and the people involved. This is a time for optimism and earnestness.

This is not the time for the picking apart of the players and the processes working toward peace, especially by those who do not have to live in the region and have to deal on a daily basis with the consequences. Israel is a mature and democratic enough nation to determine what’s in its best interest in both the short- and long- term, and will deal accordingly.

Diaspora constituencies will have to learn to live with the results, difficult as they may seem for those involved. Israel must determine its own sovereign interest, which may change its relationship with some Diaspora constituencies and which will be part of the natural evolutionary process of the state.

Bringing peace will involve great courage and compromise on all fronts.

It will require support from the parties involved and those who support them.

Those who demand “all or nothing” solutions will be disappointed and those who demand, “do this and don’t do that,” will also be disappointed.

The peace will have to make sense to those who have to live with it and enforce it, and perhaps less to ideological extremists. The peace will have strengths and weaknesses from many perspectives, but we must accept that there is no perfect solution; any solution may aggrieve some factions who will have to be contained in their zealotry. This exists on both sides.

The point is that we must go into the process with hope, courage and a certain faith that the parties will do the best they can, realizing that the price of peace for the peacemakers has often been their lives, a price many of the pundits, polemicists and critics are not willing to consider. We must admire the courage of all involved since the stakes are high both for private citizens and for their leaders.

One of the things we have learned in the 70-year struggle for peace in the region is that there always will be skepticism, rejectionism, extremism and constant criticism of efforts for peaceful resolution of differences. What we need now, which is new from our side, is universal support for a process that is necessary to the survival of the State of Israel and the ongoing strength and perpetuation of the Jewish people and is supported by many constituencies for the peacemakers.

As Jews, we need to come together, whatever our political and religious orientations, to pray and work for the success of these processes. We know that if they fail, many Jewish lives will continue to be lost, our people will become further fractionalized and future opportunities to achieve peace will become fewer and fewer.

Peace is so vital that we must put aside differences and work together to be supportive of the efforts of the courageous leaders who are putting much on the line to achieve it.

The writer is president emeritus and cofounder of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.


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