AJC Addresses Doha Forum on Middle East Peace

May 21, 2012 – New York – A senior AJC official, addressing a major international conference in Qatar, urged Arab governments to reach out to Israel to advance Arab-Israeli peace.
“It is the obligation of Arab leadership, and within the power of Arab leadership, to remake the peace process,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC director of Government and International Affairs. “A new partnership between the Arab states and Israel,” he said, “must not be forced to wait until Palestinian-Israeli peace is achieved.”
Isaacson was addressing the "Enriching the Middle East's Economic Future Conference" of the Doha Forum, a three-day conference co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Middle East Development and the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While Isaacson, and other AJC leaders, have traveled extensively to Arab countries across the region, it was the first time he had the unusual opportunity to present in a public forum in the Arab world AJC’s perspective on the search for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
AJC strongly supports a two-state solution as “the only viable, sustainable, and just solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Isaacson said.
“AJC opposes calls for a one-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, whether proposed by supporters of the Palestinian cause or by supporters of Israel,” said Isaacson. ”One-state formulations are historically, politically and morally untenable.”
Regarding the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted at the Arab Summit in Beirut ten years ago, Isaacson said the document needs reworking “to demonstrate the sincerity of its sponsors.”

“If the intention of the initiative was to convince a skeptical Israeli public and a wary international community that the Arab states accept Israel and are prepared to live with Israel and even work side-by-side with Israel, the message hasn’t been received, and it needs to be retransmitted, in a new way,” said Isaacson. 

Isaacson stressed that, unlike the Middle East Quartet, the Arab states have the power to bring about a change in the approach to effective peacemaking. As one example, Isaacson suggested a new approach for Arab governments regarding the Palestinian leadership:

“Only the Arab states can say to the Palestinians’ fractured and wishful and too-often corrupted leadership: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s get serious. Let’s stop

instrumentalizing Palestinian victimhood. Let’s stop wasting our time and money and international good will on boycotts and hollow campaigns to mar Israel’s image – the image of the quintessential ‘start-up nation,’ of the small and vibrant country that has won 10 Nobel prizes. It makes no sense. Let’s stop propping up and tolerating movements that celebrate and engage in violence – beginning with Hamas.

“Let’s stop trying to convince our people – Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian refugees and their descendants wherever they may live, and all Arab populations everywhere – that the Jews don’t have legitimacy in this land, and that if we hold out long enough and treat them like pariahs they will fail and they will leave. They are succeeding, not failing, and they are not leaving. Let’s stop holding our future – your children and our children, and, yes, the Israeli children – hostage to a dark and futile fantasy.’ ”

The AJC official also called for an expansion of existing regional cooperation, such as Israel’s participation in the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi and the Middle East Desalination Research Center in Oman. “If these and other collaborative efforts are intensified, if the message of Arab leadership is one of engagement, the dynamic of Israeli-Palestinian peace will change,” Isaacson said.
Putting the region’s interests first, said Isaacson, is increasingly critical amidst the political upheaval in the Arab world and the common threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capability. Even in the absence of Israeli-Palestinian peace, “there are issues the Middle East states can only resolve together, as a region.”