- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 4, 2012
Potential peace negotiations and the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East were the main topics of discourse when Roey Gilad, the consulate general of Israel to the Midwest, visited the University and delivered a special address to about 25 students at the University’s Hillel on Tuesday.
The majority of Gilad’s address focused on the effects of the Arab Spring on the state of Israel and the possibility of peace agreements between the Palestinians and Israel, in which he emphasized the need for a two-state solution.
Gilad said the conflicts in the Middle East over the past two years highlight that making peace with the Palestinians is not the only issue that Israel must deal with at this time.
“If we thought that the Middle East was an unstable place before, I think now we know the real meaning of instability,” Gilad said of the recent conflicts.
After the recent engagement between Israel and Hamas, Gilad noted that the future of a ceasefire between Israel and the militant organization that is classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. government and currently governs the Gaza Strip is reliant on the prevention of the rearmament of Hamas.
“If we succeed, the ceasefire will be longer,” Gilad said. “If we should not succeed, unfortunately the ceasefire will be short.”
Gilad went on to say that though there are many problems plaguing peace agreements, he believes stronger Palestinian leadership will ultimately lead to a two-state solution in which the nations can each make concessions for the greater good. He added that the recent move by the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state was not helpful in these negotiations from Israel’s perspective.
“I strongly believe that this (two-state solution) ... can be achieved, should be achieved, but again, the answer to achieving this is in Ramallah, not in this political circus at the United Nations,” Gilad said, referring to the current administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank.
Gilad also responded to the recent decision by Israel to construct 3,000 homes in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem — a decision that has led to criticism from the United States and formal protests from several European nations. Gilad said Israel has no intention of moving back to the 1967 border established when Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from Jordan and Egypt during the Six-Day War.
“I think the problem is that while there is a wish and a will to go for the two-state solution that will eventually be a very significant Israeli pull-back from Gaza and from the West Bank,” Gilad said. “No Israeli prime minister is willing to take the chance that they will stay in the settlements and something bad will happen.”
At the end of the discussion, Gilad said any possible agreements reached between the parties will have to be formed through respect or fear.
LSA junior Molly Rosen — the vice speaker of the Central Student Government Assembly and president of I-LEAD, a pro-Israeli group on campus — said Gilad offered an optimistic view of the future between the two feuding parties, which is much different from what she believes the media tends to portray.
“It’s always good to hear the facts from the person who’s working with it first-hand,” Rosen said.
LSA sophomore Michelle Freed seconded Rosen’s sentiments, adding that people can get conflicting information from many different sources today and that all of the information can be easily misconstrued.
“It’s really nice to hear from someone who’s really involved in the political happenings,” Freed said. “Having somebody who’s really knowledgeable and being able to ask and answer questions is really beneficial.”
LSA junior Andrew Lieberman said he attended because he wanted to see what such a high-ranking Jewish official would say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I really enjoyed what he had to say, his insight,” Lieberman said. “He’s a really incredible source.”