A need to put people’s interests first

Israel has made concession after concession in the name of peace.

There is no doubt that living conditions for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are very difficult. But to point the finger solely at Israel is simply wrong.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s speech last week was an excellent step in trying to spark negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Olmert specifically stated that Israel will improve the operation of border crossings and release Palestinian money for the purpose of alleviating humanitarian hardship. Israel will also decrease roadblocks, which will increase the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the territories. Olmert also stated that Israel will assist in creating a plan for economic rehabilitation in the Gaza Strip, as well as establish industrial zones to create places of employment for Palestinians. These plans will improve the Palestinian way of life, but Israel cannot do it alone.

Throughout history, Israel has been willing to make concessions to ensure lasting peace. Rather than put the interests of the people first, Palestinian leadership has continued to impede the peace process. The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority has done nothing to prevent the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but the terrorist attacks did not stop. In fact, Israel has complied with the recent ceasefire in Gaza, but the Palestinian rockets continue to fly.

Hamas also continues to refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist. Terminology definitely matters in a conflict as heated as this. Words are as important as actions because they are a window into the heart of a society. Recognizing someone’s rights is a deep and permanent conviction. Hamas says it will give peace negotiations only six months and if they don’t get what they want, they’ll start the violence again.

Israel is not perfect, but, throughout its history, it has made concession after concession in the name of peace and it’s time for the Palestinian Authority to take positive steps toward peace as well. All Hamas has to do is accept Israel’s right to exist, renounce terror and accept previous agreements with Israel. It’s time for Palestinian leaders to set aside obstinate ideology and put the people’s interests first. If they do, they will see a Palestinian state established alongside Israel.

Dan Goodman is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]