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.
For nearly two decades, the Palestinian Authority conducted peace talks with Israel while construction in the Jewish settlements was continuing. Every now and then the Palestinian leadership would complain about the construction, but it never made a big fuss about the issue. Nor had it threatened to suspend the peace process.
The Palestinian leaders even "forgot," when they signed the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993, to demand that the agreement include an Israeli commitment to stop building in the settlements.
Palestinian leaders living in the West Bank can't say that they never saw the bulldozers working in the settlements.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lives not far from a settlement near Ramallah. From his balcony, he saw how the Bet El settlement grew over the past two decades. It's impossible to travel throughout the West Bank without noticing the construction work in the settlements.
Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, talked and worked with Israel while the construction was continuing. Until two years ago, Abbas was negotiating with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, while the settlements were being expanded. Ironically, the Olmert government built more in the settlements than the "right-wing" government of Binyamin Netanyahu.
So how did the issue of the settlements become the "major obstacle to peace?"
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!"