For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Amidst the major developments of the last few weeks surrounding Iran and the opening of the UN General Assembly, the Quartet - representing the US, the UN Secretariat, the EU and Russia - issued a new policy statement in New York on September 24 about the state of Israeli-Palestinian contacts that was extremely disturbing. Surprisingly, it has received little if any notice in the mainstream media.
As usual, the Quartet meeting in New York that issued the statement was held at a very senior level - including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with the US special envoy George Mitchell, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, and Tony Blair, the Quartet representative.
At the outset, the statement discarded the principle of reciprocity, which not only is closely associated with the diplomatic principles advocated by Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but is also a fundamental axiom of international law. Astoundingly, the Quartet called on both parties to "act on their previous agreements and obligations - in particular adherence to the road map, irrespective of reciprocity (emphasis added)..."
The road map was issued in March 2003 by the Quartet, which was formed by the Bush administration to provide European states with a formal peacemaking role in exchange for gaining their support for the Iraq War.
But the original road map was "performance-based" - movement from one stage to the next was contingent upon the fulfillment by both Israelis and Palestinians of their respective responsibilities. Now this critical element appeared to have been removed. True, the erosion of the road map was helped by past Israeli governments that plunged into permanent-status negotiations before the Palestinians fulfilled their obligations. But it is the new formal position of the Quartet that provides the final blow to the road map's carefully structured conditionality.
In general, the Quartet wanted to provide its own multilateral stamp of approval on President Barack Obama's UN address from September 22. It is to be remembered that Obama's remarks were unusual in their exceptionally long and detailed treatment of the Arab-Israel conflict: Roughly one-tenth of the speech was devoted to the issue of Israel and the Palestinians - far more than any other conflict in the world. He specifically proposed the establishment of "a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967."
In doing so, Obama adopted language that was not balanced out by an equal reference to UN Security Council Resolution 242, which appears in the Quartet road map and did not call for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines.
OBAMA'S PUSH for the 1967 lines is also evident in his language during his UN address that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
In April 2004, president George W. Bush sent a letter to prime minister Ariel Sharon stating that it was unrealistic to expect that Israel would withdraw from its large "population centers" in the West Bank. This acknowledgement of the settlement blocs granted a portion of the settlements a degree of legitimacy that Obama's formal remarks denied.
It also led Bush to accept the fact that Israel was not going to withdraw to the 1967 lines and was entitled to "defensible borders." The Bush letter, moreover, received massive support from both houses of the US Congress in June 2004, providing it with bipartisan backing (including Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Hillary Clinton). Given the language Obama used at the UN - and the Quartet now backed - it is not surprising that his administration has not openly committed itself to the 2004 letter.
The Quartet statement also goes out of its way to back the Palestinian Authority's new plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian state over the next 24 months - which was drafted by Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. On the one hand, the Fayad Plan appears to address Israel's call for bottom-up peacemaking by tackling head-on the lack of sufficient self-governing bodies on the Palestinian side. On the other hand, it is a program that leads the Palestinian Authority seven-eighths of the way to an independent Palestinian state, leaving ambiguous how the Palestinians get to the finish line. What it leaves open is the possibility of a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians or by someone else. (Full Article) .
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"