Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

AIJAC Welcomes Palestinian Elections, Hopes New Leader Abbas Will Initiate the Steps Needed for Peace

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10 January 2005


The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today expressed the hope that the election of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority will help promote a better and more peaceful life for both Palestinians and Israelis.

AIJAC's Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said, "A unique opportunity now exists for Mahmoud Abbas to lead his people away from some of the self-destructive Palestinian policies of the past and toward a much better future, based on a secure peace with Israel.

"To seize that opportunity, President Abbas must meet a number of challenges. He must convincingly and consistently explain to the Palestinian people that peace can only be based on mutually acceptable compromise, and that such compromise will yield tangible benefits for everyone. It is unfortunate that some of his statements during the election campaign were less than helpful in this regard," Dr Rubenstein added. "He will also need to work cooperatively with Israel's new Unity Government, which represents a broad Israeli consensus united around Ariel Sharon's policy of disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank. He must help make Sharon's daring initiative a success, especially by being ready to provide responsible control over security for the areas evacuated.

"Additional challenges for the new President include: continuing to send the message that violence will not help achieve the legitimate goals of Palestinians; confronting the terrorist groups, such as a Hamas and Islamic Jihad, that seek Israel's destruction and challenge the authority of the PA; and ending permanently the hatred and incitement against Israel and Jews which has often pervaded the Palestinian official media and education system," Dr Rubenstein concluded.

AIJAC's National Chairman, Mark Leibler AO, added, "Notwithstanding his large margin of victory, there is no doubting that challenges facing Abbas are very formidable. He will require courage, wisdom and determination to succeed. And there will be many both within Palestinian society and outside it doing everything in their power to hamper him and destroy any progress. AIJAC earnestly hopes that Mahmoud Abbas will prove himself up to the test. If so, then not only Palestinians and Israelis, but the entire world, will benefit."

For more information, contact Dr Colin Rubenstein on: (03)-9681-6660 or (0418)-339-721 or Jeremy Jones (Director of International and Community Affairs) on (0411)-536-436 or e-mail aijac@aijac.org.au.

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