A series of TV ads bring attention to Israel’s historic efforts for peace with the Palestinians – an undertaking that involves evacuating about 9,000 Jewish citizens from all of Gaza and parts of the West Bank.
The ad campaign, organized by The Israel Project, consists of three 30-second spots that began running Sunday on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News Channel in Washington, D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia. The spots will air hundreds of times until July 31.
The commercials focus on Israel’s willingness to give up land to allow 1.3 million Palestinians in Gaza the opportunity to govern themselves and provide the framework for the creation of a Palestinian state. The disengagement initiative is part of Israel’s stated desire for a two-state solution that eventually would allow Palestinians and Israelis to live side by side in peace.
Terrorist groups have in recent weeks broken the negotiated ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians with suicide bombings, Kassam rocket attacks and shootings of Israeli civilians. Even so, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reaffirmed his pledge to carry out the disengagement initiative.
Israeli public support for the withdrawal also remains high, even as terrorists fired more than 100 rockets on Israel and killed six Israelis July 15-16. A telephone poll conducted this month by Dr. Aaron Lerner, director of Independent Media Review and Analysis, showed that more than half of Israelis support the disengagement.
At a conference June 30 in Caesaria, Israel, Mr. Sharon’s comments reflected his unwavering commitment to disengagement and peace with its neighbors.
“There exist in Palestinian society and its leadership moderate forces who want to make the right choice,” the Prime Minister said in a recent speech at a conference in Caesaria June 30. “Disengagement can help them, and constitutes a test of whether or not they can lead, whether we have or do not have a partner.”
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert echoed those comments at a TIP-sponsored luncheon for journalists in New York June 9.
“I hope and I wish the Palestinian children the same future as I wish the Jewish children in the state of Israel,” Mr. Olmert said. “I’m absolutely certain that the overwhelming majority of Palestinian parents wake up every morning praying and wishing that they will be able to take their kids to school and receive them back in the afternoon and educate them and raise them to be – to lead a happy life with their future families.”
Israel gained control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula and other land in 1967 after the armies of Egypt, Jordan and other Arab armies amassed on Israel’s borders in an attempt to obliterate Israel. In response, Israel launched a preemptive attack and ended up in control of those areas. Israel later gave up about 90 percent of the territory it captured for peace with Egypt, making Israel the first country in modern history to return land acquired in a defensive war.
The script of one TIP ad states: “In August, Israel will take bold steps for peace, giving up all of Gaza and parts of the West Bank.”
“It’s very hard – it’s very hard to leave this place,” adds Sigal Barda, a woman living in the Elei Sinai settlement who will be forced to leave her home.
“More than 8,000 Israelis will move – homes, businesses, and schools abandoned – all to give land to the Palestinians. Israel is making painful sacrifices, for a better future where two states – Israel and Palestine – will live side by side in peace.”
“I hope the future will be much better,” Barda added.
Some information for this story was contributed by The Israel Project.