The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has welcomed as a promising first step the Annapolis Middle East peace conference.
AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said reports from the conference indicated it had successfully provided a platform to relaunch negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
But now the real work begins, he said.
“Of course, the hard work has only just commenced and as the parties get down to the task of peacemaking there will be many difficult issues that still need to be negotiated,” Dr Rubenstein said.
“The Palestinians must accept a two-state solution, which means that Israel will be a Jewish state, just as Palestine will be a Palestinian state, and understand that this means that the so-called Palestinian right of return can only apply to a Palestinian state and not Israel, to name just a few of the difficult issues,” he added.
“Bearing in mind all of these challenges, unrealistic deadlines would be unhelpful to the goal of a lasting and secure peace. The agreed target to finish negotiations by the end of next year is welcome as a target. Any effort to turn this into a deadline would be counter-productive” Dr Rubenstein said.
Responsible world leaders can play an important role in the negotiating phase, Dr Rubenstein said, by first encouraging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seize the historic opportunity offered by Annapolis to compromise and pursue realistic goals, and, second, “by maintaining the boycott of the terrorist government of Hamas in the Gaza Strip until it recognises Israel and also renounces violence.”
“The participation of over 40 countries at the conference, including some who do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, is to be welcomed,” Dr Rubenstein stated. He added that, “The growing willingness of Arab states to engage positively in peacemaking represents a growing realisation across the Middle East that Israel and moderate Arab states share a common interest in containing the rampant hegemonic ambitions of Iran and its allies, such as Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. There is every reason to explore the opportunities for peacemaking that this common interest creates.”
“Particularly noteworthy, was the presence of Indonesia’s Foreign Minister at the conference, as this is the country with the world’s largest Muslim population,” Dr Rubenstein noted. “Indonesia’s experience in building democratic, civil and judicial institutions can greatly assist the Palestinians in reforming and democratising the Palestinian Authority, and establishing the rule of law, which are absolute requirements for achieving a lasting final peace”, he added.
For additional information, contact Dr. Colin Rubenstein on (03)-9681-6660