Since 2000, Israelis have made three peace offers to the Palestinians – all REJECTED without counter-offer.
Even if it requires painful compromises, polls confirm the vast majority of Israelis desire peace and security for them and their neighbours. That’s why, in 1947, Israel’s first leaders accepted the UN’s decision to establish two states: one Jewish and one Arab. That’s why Israel signed lasting peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. That’s why Israelis voluntarily ceded Gaza to the Palestinian leadership in 2005. And that’s why, since 2000, Israelis have presented three peace offers to the Palestinian leadership – each refused without counter-offer.
Most Canadians have never faced threats to their children such as the ones Israelis endure today. Like Canada, Israel is an advanced democracy – with freedoms of the press and religion, equality for men and women, independent courts, free and fair elections, and equal rights for all citizens guaranteed in law. Israel’s democratic government is accountable to Israeli citizens. If it were Canadians targeted for daily terror attacks, what would we demand from our government?
Peace seems a distant hope today. Since early October 2015, Palestinians have launched dozens of knife, gun, and car rampages against Israelis. As of early November, 11 Israelis have been murdered and 135 wounded.
Palestinian political leaders, religious officials, media, and social media have applauded these attacks, spread anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, and called for more terrorism. Many attackers were teenagers, one only thirteen. Incitement to violence has led not only to Israeli deaths and the destruction of entire families but also to the poisoning of the minds of an entire generation of Palestinian youth. It’s led to many committing suicidal atrocities and rejecting the only path to a positive future for Palestinians: peace and reconciliation with Israelis.
Palestinian officials have recently escalated their rhetoric and levelled false accusations regarding Israeli intentions for the Temple Mount (as it is known to Jews) or Haram Al-Sharif (as it is known to Muslims).
The location of two Jewish temples (the first destroyed in 586 BCE, the second in 70 CE), the site is now the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. Since Jerusalem’s 1967 reunification under Israeli sovereignty, Israel has protected freedom of religion – including access to religious sites – for all faiths.
Today, the Temple Mount is directly managed by Jordanian authorities. Under the decades-long, status quo agreement, visits by non-Muslims are restricted to specific times and non-Muslims are not permitted to pray at the site. Non-Muslim visitors are often harassed and intimidated.
Riots by Muslim worshippers have increased on and around the Temple Mount, deliberately incited by false rumours that Israel plans to alter the status quo agreement, undermine Muslim religious freedoms, or “desecrate” the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Even US Secretary of State John Kerry has joined other objective observers who condemned these accusations as false. To ease tensions, Israel has restricted Israeli parliamentarians from visiting the site and affirmed – repeatedly – that Israel will not alter the status quo.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared in September:
“Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God.”
He added that Israelis
“have no right to defile the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that.”
Weeks later, the current wave of violence erupted – with attackers declaring their motivation to avenge what they believe to be Israel’s “desecration” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.