J Street Welcomes Gaza Cease-Fire

August 26, 2014

After 50 days of war and devastation, today’s cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza is truly welcome.

The cease-fire provides an opportunity for broader efforts to improve the lives of the Palestinian population of Gaza who have suffered tremendous losses of life and property, while also allowing Israelis to live without constant fear of rocket and tunnel attacks.

We urge the parties to carry out the commitments they have made, so that the cease-fire proves durable and Israelis and Palestinians can finally emerge from the darkness that has engulfed them for nearly two months.

We welcome the steps agreed to, including the widening of a fishing zone for Gazans from three to eight miles and the intention to post Palestinian Authority forces on the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt. We also welcome Israel's agreement to allow additional humanitarian supplies into Gaza and urge it to find ways to substantially ease its blockade of the territory while still assuring its security.

The cease-fire also offers an opportunity for the parties to urgently address the root causes of the violence including those at the very heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, notably the occupation. Without doing so, we are likely to see Hamas come back stronger and with better weapons, as was the case following operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense. This would again lead to further bloodshed and loss of life on both sides.

According to news reports, the parties have agreed to further negotiations of more substantive issues in a month, including the possible construction of an airport and sea port in Gaza and the demilitarization of Hamas. Such developments would constitute a major step forward to building a new and better future for Gaza while also protecting Israelis.

Over these past terrible weeks, Israelis and Palestinians have stared into the abyss, and seen once again that there is no military solution to their conflict. This round of awful bloodshed has ended without winners — only with losers.

That is why, once this war is behind us, Israel and the PLO must not merely settle for an illusory status quo, but instead work urgently toward a long-term political agreement that establishes two states, side-by-side in peace and security and an end to the underlying conflict and the occupation. This cease-fire is a beginning, but only a comprehensive two-state solution can bring an end to the suffering we have witnessed.