The fall is shaping up to be a crucial time for Israel. In September, Palestinian leadership plans to present a resolution for Palestinian statehood to the United Nations Security Council. If the Security Council approves the resolution, it would then go before the U.N. General Assembly for a vote.
Though passage of such a resolution is unlikely — the U.S. holds veto power because of its permanent seat on the Security Council and has promised to exercise it — if it did
pass it could have grave consequences. It would allow the Palestinians to avoid negotiating with Israel, effectively killing the likelihood that they would compromise on key issues. It would confer legitimacy on the new Palestinian unity government, which now includes the terrorist group Hamas. In short, it would make the possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians even more remote than it already is.
What are the conditions that might make real peace possible? In his landmark speech to the U.S. Congress last month
, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut to the heart of the matter. "You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state," he said. "It's always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about…. [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas must do what I have done…. I told you it wasn't easy for me. I stood before my people, and I said, 'I will accept a Palestinian state.' It's time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, 'I will accept a Jewish state.' Those six words will change history."
The prime minister is exactly right. If the Palestinians truly want a state, let them take the path of compromise and honest negotiation. By going to the U.N. to validate their aspirations to nationhood, Palestinian leadership has shown that it has no respect for the rights, sovereignty, and security of Israel. As long as the Palestinians refuse to embrace these fundamental principles, any bid for Israel-Palestinian peace is doomed to failure.
Years ago, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said something just as relevant today as it was then: "There will be peace in the Middle East only when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel." My friends, as we wait vigilantly through this summer to see what September will bring, let us pray for the day the former prime minister spoke of — a day of true peace between Israel and her neighbors. And let us continue to work to ensure that the true story of Israel's ongoing struggle for peace and security is told to the world.
With prayers for shalom
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews