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OPT: Israel, the Conflict and Peace - Answers to frequently asked questions

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How can peace be achieved?

The dream of a future in which Israeli and Arab children can grow up free from the threat of war and the fear of terrorism unites all Israelis. However, the long history of failed negotiations with the Palestinians has proven that simply yearning for peace is not enough. Time after time, Israel has presented far-reaching peace proposals, made major concessions, relinquished extensive tracts of land, uprooted settlements, withdrawn forces, dismantled military bases and taken steps to enable the Palestinians to establish the foundations of self-government. In return, Israel has received a Palestinian campaign of terror, suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and virulent incitement against Israelis and Jews; and has been subjected to an ongoing campaign in the international arena to delegitimize Israel's very existence and undermine its economy.

Israel has always been willing to compromise and every Israeli government - including the present one - has been prepared to make major sacrifices for the sake of peace. However, peacemaking requires concessions on both sides. Just as Israel has acknowledged the rights and interests of the Palestinians, Israel has legitimate rights and interests that also need to be acknowledged and addressed. Peace can only be achieved through earnest negotiations which bridge gaps and resolve all outstanding issues.

What are the five principles for peace?

The foundations for a lasting peace can be found in the fulfillment of five principles: the first three of which concern the recognition of the legitimacy of Israel; while the last two relate to security concerns. While these principles are not preconditions for peace talks, a true and enduring peace will only be possible if they are satisfied. The five principles are as follows:

1) Just as Israel is being asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinians, so too the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state lies at the core of the conflict.

2) The Palestinian refugee issue should be resolved within the context of the Palestinian nation-state. While Palestinian refugees should be free to settle in the Palestinian homeland, Israel cannot allow itself to be demographically engulfed by a flood of refugees, undermining the basic identity of Israel as the world's only Jewish state.

3) Any peace accord must conclude the conflict completely. Peace must be permanent, not an interim stage during which the Palestinians would be able to use their state from which to pursue further conflict with Israel. No further claims should be advanced following the signing of a peace agreement.

4) Given the attacks launched on Israel after it left the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon, it is important that a future Palestinian state should be one that doesn't threaten the State of Israel. Any territory that is vacated within the framework of an arrangement cannot be exploited by terrorists or by Iran's proxies for attacks on Israel. The only way to achieve this goal and prevent further conflict is by effective demilitarization of any future Palestinian state.

5) Any peace treaty should be guaranteed by the international community - led by the United States - especially with regards to demilitarization and security arrangements. Support would be expressed through political, and not military, means. Such a guarantee will add a layer of deterrence against those who seek to invalidate or violate the demilitarization arrangements.