December 1, 2010


Israeli ambassador: 'We want a Palestinian state side by side with Israel'

Speaking on the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations vote that established the modern state of Israel in 1947, Michael Oren Israel’s ambassador to the United States, traced the history of the country and its relations with its Arab neighbors and with the United States.

Oren’s Nov. 29 talk on the historical perspective of the U.S.-Israel alliance was part of the Halle Speaker Series. 

In 1947, President Harry Truman defied his State Department to support the U.N. Partition vote on the plan by the United Nations’ General Assembly to create a Jewish state and an Arab state. He was the first international leader to recognize Israel.

President Lyndon Johnson, after the 1956 war, recognized Israel’s value as an ally, and began what has become a deep and multifaceted relationship, tying the U.S. and Israel in areas as diverse as nanotechnology, defense, intelligence, commerce and fuel research, Oren said.

Oren answered audience questions on a wide range of political topics. 

“Israel,” he said, “longs for peace, and wants a Palestinian state based on recognizing each other as the nation state of their people, looking to form a comprehensive peace so all peoples can live together in legitimacy and stability.”

The barrier wall “was created early in the decade in response to suicide bombers. We created it out of a sense of sadness. Buses and restaurants were being blown up. We felt we needed it simply to protect us. It protects Palestinians, too, from Hamas.”

He calls for direct talks with Palestinian leaders to grapple with today’s monumental challenges—nuclearization, terrorist threats and especially Iran. “We need to learn how to deal with points of disagreement, to discuss and face them with commitment to the alliance,” Oren said.

“No Jewish state can tell a Jew he can’t live in the ancestral homeland. It is also the homeland of the Palestinian people. We are going to have to divide the land if we are ever to have peace.”

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