Israel wants peace

Dan Garon

Ian ByrneâÄôs Oct. 4 column, âÄúThe Israeli-Palestinian Migraine,âÄù was myopic and misinformed . It dangerously misunderstands the reality on the ground, which is that peace is readily possible if the Palestinians and the Arabs world would commit to negotiation and be a viable partner for peace.
Despite what the column construed, the Obama administration has been seeking the resumption of peace talks since early 2009. The Israelis, our allies, have been willing partners ever since. The Palestinian Authority , the supposed aggrieved party, had refused to participate. Month after month, ObamaâÄôs envoy, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell,  shuttled back and forth between Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, hoping to start what he called proximity talks. The Palestinian Authority said no.
In late 2009, the Israelis put forward a one-time confidence building measure: For 10 months, the Israeli government would stop all construction in the settlements. It means completely freezing an entire industry and preventing even natural growth within cities that will remain in Israel under any foreseeable peace agreement.
Yet month after month, the Palestinian Authority refused to talk. The freeze proved ineffective.
It wasnâÄôt until the beginning of month nine, with the deadline looming, that the Palestinian Authority finally agreed to begin talks. Their delay was an attempt to extract a permanent concession out of Israel, and the Israelis recoiled.
John F. Kennedy said that, âÄúWe cannot negotiate with those who say, âÄòWhatâÄôs mine is mine and whatâÄôs yours is negotiable.âÄôâÄù The status of the settlements, borders, refugees and a host of other issues, need to be negotiated during the negotiations, not before them.
History indicates how badly the Israelis want peace. They didnâÄôt pull out of negotiations after Hamas  murdered an Israeli family of four in the West Bank  in late August and the Israelis have a history of making difficult concessions. In 2005, Israel withdrew from all settlements in the Gaza Strip .
The Israelis are seriously prepared to make peace with the Palestinians, but no progress can be made if there is no committed negotiating partner on the other side of the table.
Dan Garon, University student, former president of Gopher Israel