B’nai B’rith International welcomes the first face-to-face peace talks in nearly two years. It is encouraging to see the parties sit down together. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for a peace agreement that will enable “both peoples to live in peace, security, and dignity,” is one all sides should work to fulfill.“Israel wants peace,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Israel has never known a time when its neighbors didn’t threaten. Has never known a time when its sons and daughters didn’t have to wear a military uniform to protect the nation; when walking into a restaurant or a shopping mall or boarding a bus did not have some inherent danger. The opportunity provided by direct negotiations to change that is welcome.”
A summit of this magnitude hopefully will establish a level of trust. But as always in talk of peace, the Palestinians have to prove they are willing to compromise in order to effectuate an agreement.
Palestinians must once and for all address the issue of incitement and work to educate for peace. Even amid peace talks in Washington, back in the Middle East too many aspects of Palestinian life are dominated by denigrating Jews. There are still streets and squares being named after suicide bombers, speeches in mosques railing against Jews and Israel, children’s television programs still feed young minds hateful messages, and school textbooks still don’t acknowledge Israel’s existence.
And of course there is the ever-present question of what these negotiations mean, since the other half of Palestinians are represented by a terrorist group—Hamas—which does not recognize Israel, calls for its destruction, and engages in terror attacks against the Jewish people.
“As Jews we have to be optimistic, skeptical, and cynical, all at the same time,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The resumption of peace talks represents a good start. Early indications seem to point to some breakthroughs, especially the agreement to meet again. Hopefully this new beginning in Washington will lead to something positive and lasting.”
Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet in two weeks, and then hold bi-monthly meetings after that.