Israeli government policy requires that Israel’s “right to exist” be recognized by Hamas as a condition for a permanent ceasefire with the Palestinians; fair enough even though no country has a “right to exist” beyond that given it by its citizens. Friends of a just peace between Israel and Palestine legitimately ask when Israel will recognize the right of a viable Palestinian nation to exist as a necessary step in bringing peace to both Palestinians and Israelis. As the most powerful state in the region Israel can and should initiate the process of mutual recognition, whether or not Hamas reciprocates, as a sign of its honest intention to resolve the conflict with justice to both parties. This would do much to greatly reduce the desperation which sends young Palestinians into Israel with bombs strapped to their bodies.
By continuing to encourage and protect “settlements” in the West Bank, dividing the area into isolated fragments and building a wall which in some instances completely cuts off entire Palestinian villages from their compatriots, the Israeli government makes a viable Palestinian national state almost impossible and undermines the possibility of a just resolution in that tortured land.
Israelis and Palestinians have a right to live in peace, secure in their respective countries. Present Israeli policy only serves to prolong the suffering of both peoples. If the government of Israel truly seeks peace it must live up to the highest calling of the prophets of ancient Israel: To care for the widow, the orphan and the stranger in their midst, to do justice. To do justice the Israeli government must return all its citizens to Israel as it existed before 1967. Thousands of Israeli citizens are struggling to make this happen; it is their government’s policies which stand in the way.