Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, has an Op-Ed in today’s New York Times. It’s a clear, powerful call to recognize that the key, foundational issue in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations is not construction in the territories, or secure borders or anything else that is often talked about. These are important issues, but they are not foundational. They are not at the core of the matter. At the core is Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state:
Affirmation of Israel’s Jewishness, however, is the very foundation of peace, its DNA. Just as Israel recognizes the existence of a Palestinian people with an inalienable right to self-determination in its homeland, so, too, must the Palestinians accede to the Jewish people’s 3,000-year connection to our homeland and our right to sovereignty there. This mutual acceptance is essential if both peoples are to live side by side in two states in genuine and lasting peace.
Whether or not you agree with Israel lifting the ban on construction in the West Bank, why anyone would think that it is as big of an issue as this is beyond me. When one side refuses to acknowledge that the other even has a right to exist, it makes peace impossible.
Borders and land-swaps can be negotiated. Our right to exist cannot.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.