Representatives from 49 countries and international organizations gathered this November in Annapolis to lay the foundations for the establishment of a free and democratic Palestinian State, to strengthen the security of the State of Israel and to create an environment conducive to the reduction of tensions in the region.
The outcome of the Annapolis peace conference included a pledge by both Israel and the Palestinians to intensify negotiations with a goal of reaching a peace treaty by the end of 2008. Along the way, both parties reaffirmed their obligations under the 2003 "roadmap," including an end to Palestinian violence and to new Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The fulfillment of these obligations will be monitored and judged by an American-led group.
The joint statement issued at the end of the conference did not specifically mention the critical issues that need to be addressed by what is promised to be a pattern of continuous negotiations, but those issues are understood to include the borders of the Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, a resolution of Palestinian claims of a right to return and a full range of security guarantees for Israel.
The United States has promised its vigorous support for the negotiations, and discussions have already begun for the convening of an international donors' conference in the next several months that would lay the groundwork for financial incentives to enhance the possibility of success.
THEREFORE, the Union for Reform Judaism resolves to:
- Commend President Bush, Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas, Secretary of State Rice and all others who played a significant role in convening the Annapolis conference;
- Applaud enthusiastically the position espoused by Prime Minister Olmert and the Government of Israel that the status quo is untenable and fraught with peril for Israel's security and that initiatives to move towards a peace that will enhance Israel's security are urgently needed;
- Support strongly the stated position of the Government of Israel that when and if the Palestinians meet their obligations under existing agreements, Israel will negotiate on all critical issues including settlements, borders, Jerusalem and refugees;
- Urge the United Nations and the Government of the United States and its allies to encourage assertively the unconditional release by Hezbollah and Hamas of the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers, Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev,and to cease the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel;
Call upon the governments of the United States and Canada to:
- Maintain their support for the negotiations and to seek to expand and deepen such support among Israel's Muslim and Arab neighbors;
- Encourage those nations who do not have diplomatic relationships with Israel to recognize Israel and normalize relations with her and to support the Abbas government financially and diplomatically in its quest for peace.
- Continue to work in partnership with ARZA and other arms of the Movement to act assertively to create an atmosphere supportive of the U.S. and Israeli governments' efforts towards this vital peace process, and to strengthen initiatives and educational programs in our regions, congregations and affiliates to help our communities better understand the critical issues that must be addressed and resolved by the negotiators. We particularly emphasize the need for such educational programs to be created for and implemented among our high school and college youth and we encourage our Arab and Muslim friends in the U.S. and Canada to educate for peace in a similar manner.