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The Annapolis Conference: Israel’s Expectations for Annapolis

(November 6, 2007)

Israel has long advocated dialogue with pragmatic leaders on the Palestinian side. Despite all the difficulties, Israel believes that it must take advantage of the present opportunity.

As the Annapolis meeting approaches, Israel’s goal is to reach understanding on the widest possible common ground in the time available. This will enable forward progress towards the realization of the two-state vision.

While the Annapolis meeting will not be a place for negotiations, it will certainly be a starting point. After Annapolis, it is expected that Israel and the Palestinians will enter into vigorous, ongoing and continuing negotiations, dealing with the fundamental issues which are a condition for realizing the vision of two states living side-by-side in security and peace. Annapolis will be the jumping-off point for continued serious and in-depth negotiations in which no issue will be avoided. No division which has clouded relations between Israel and the Palestinian people for so many years will be ignored.

The two-state solution is a goal shared by Israelis and moderate Palestinians, envisioning two homelands for two peoples living side-by-side in peace and security. Consequently it must be ensured that the future Palestinian state is not a terror state. Therefore, the Roadmap commitments which the Palestinians took upon themselves - to fight terrorism and to completely change their internal reality - must be fulfilled. Israel as well is committed to completing the fulfillment of its part of the Roadmap, despite the political hardships involved.

As Israel strives to lay out the path for a better future with the moderate Palestinian leadership headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the reality on the ground, including the situation in Hamas-controlled Gaza, cannot be forgotten. The ceaseless mortar and rocket bombardment of Israel’s civilians, launched by terrorists within Gaza, must be addressed simultaneously. While promoting peace with the moderates, Israel must still protect its citizens from the extremists.

For the success of this process, the details of the discussion of core issues need to be left to the negotiation room. Public pronouncements by either side will not help bridge the gaps nor assist in reaching understanding.

Israel has often stated that success will require compromise by both sides, as past experience has taught us. Israel is ready for compromise in a manner that can realize the goal of two states, while still protecting Israel’s core national security interests. Israel hopes to discover that same willingness on the part of the Palestinians.

As the two sides take risks for peace, it is expected that the international community in general and the Middle Eastern states in particular do not stipulate conditions for the negotiations. Rather, they should offer their maximum support to the bilateral process.

It is Israel’s hope that each of the leaders and involved parties will address all the vital components of this crucial opportunity for peace, facing the risks with courage and determination, and proceeding toward the dream of peace with fortitude and resolve.

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs