Hamas and the Peace Process

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks speaks on Hamas and the Middle East Peace Process on 5th May 2011 in the House of Lords.

My Lords, I welcome this debate because it allows us to focus on both words of the phrase “peace process.” We, who pray for peace, understand by that word, a state in which I recognise your right to exist, and you recognise mine. That is what peace minimally means.

How can we be speaking about peace when Hamas remains committed as a matter of principle to the elimination of the State of Israel, when it engages in missile attacks against innocent civilians, and uses its own innocent civilians as human shields; when it propagates some of the most vicious antisemitic myths ever to have inflamed the hatred and anaesthetised the conscience of human beings, and two days ago praised Osama bin Laden as a holy warrior; and when it refuses to agree to the fundamental principles laid down by the Quartet, not least of which is the recognition of Israel’s right to exist?

Until Hamas undergoes fundamental change, there may be a process but there will not be peace. Peace is more than a resting place on the road to war. I cannot make peace with one who denies my right to exist.

My Lords, no one unfamiliar with the history of the Jewish people through its four thousand years of history can fully appreciate how deeply Jews within Israel and outside long for peace, long for the ability to live as other people live, without fear, without hate, without being treated as a pariah, without being blamed for the troubles of the world, without being denied the right to exist. That is why I urge the government to be resolute in its insistence that the path to peace in the Middle East must begin with the unequivocal recognition of the state of Israel’s right to be.