It trivialises Israel’s position, disregards the escalation of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and instead makes a misguided comparison between the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Although some lessons can be learned from the success of the Northern Irish peace process, it is a dangerous exercise to conclude that they are the same because of their largely different historical, geopolitical and cultural circumstances.
The IRA’s goal has never been the annihilation of Britain as a nation state whereas Hamas’s aim is clearly the eradication of Israel.
Furthermore, while the transformation of the IRA and decommissioning were vital to the success of the peace process, Hamas has yet to show interest in stopping its policy of terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians.
Even former British prime minister Tony Blair has dismissed the comparison between the Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts as “ridiculous” (Haaretz, November 30,2007). Israel is committed to a two-state solution where Israel and the Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.
Israel is engaged in serious negotiations with moderate Palestinians to reach an agreement to end the conflict. As it has shown in the past, Israel is willing to make huge sacrifices for peace.
In view of Israel’s efforts for peace and withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, there is no justification or excuse for the current violence led by Hamas in the Gaza Strip against Israel.
Hamas could join the peace negotiations if only it would recognise Israel’s right to exist, renounce and end its terrorist campaign and accept all prior agreements achieved between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Instead of working for a peaceful solution, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists have chosen the path of violence. This is the root cause of the ongoing suffering for both Israelis and Palestinians.
To describe Israeli actions as unjust in light of the destruction, death and injury that seven years of terrorism and rocket attacks have caused the population of southern Israel is wrong.
Israel has a duty and right to protect its citizens and does not need to subsidise Hamas terror. No country, not even Ireland, would sit idly by and watch its citizens being targeted on a daily basis without responding.
In a period of 24 hours alone (January 15-16), more than 100 rockets were launched against civilians in southern Israel. It is this terrorism which has led to the current situation.
Much of what your editorial refers to as “injustice” is actually a result of choices made by the Palestinians themselves.
In 2000, before the Palestinians began the terrorist onslaught of the second intifada, there were strong positive indications that the Palestinian economy would flourish and grow.
However, the Palestinians decided to abandon the negotiations and instead started a wave of terror attacks against Israel.
Due to corruption in the Palestinian Authority in the past, large sums donated by the international community to improve the economy have disappeared. Aside from this issue, millions of dollars promised in aid by Arab states have still to reach the Palestinian Authority.
As a result of the Palestinians’ own violent actions most of the commercial joint ventures and industrial zones designed to foster peace and economic growth were closed down.
The Palestinians themselves destroyed the local infrastructure of the common industrial zones that were built by the international donors’ investments under the Oslo process.
Even after Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Palestinians within a few short weeks had destroyed all the greenhouses and facilities left by Israel that could have been used to help the local economy.
In spite of the destruction caused by the terrorism of recent years and the ongoing rocket attacks on civilians in southern Israel, the majority of Israelis (contrary to the “few voices” mentioned in the editorial) support the peace process with the Palestinians and a ‘two-state solution’ — Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people and the future independent state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.
Embassy of Israel