This week Jewish people around the globe will take time out to welcome in the new year of 5774.
According to a tradition that dates back to the 13th century, we bid the outgoing year good riddance for the hardships it brought upon us and welcome the New Year and the blessings we hope it will bring us. This belief that the new leaf that we turn may be a harbinger of good things to come has not changed. Through eras of bounty and periods of want, during years of peace and in times of unparalleled persecution, generations of Jews have never given up the hope for a better future.
It is true that we are still faced with an on-going threat from beyond our borders and the view from our collective window reveals an unsettling panorama of strife and violence. Although Israel remains uninvolved, we must maintain our vigilance. Despite the turmoil, as we approach the New Year the aspirations of the Israeli people remain as strong as ever. We refuse to give up our conviction that a new dawn is possible. Even though several years were lost, we still maintain our faith that Palestinians and Israelis will eventually live in peace.
Nurtured by this belief, Israel has welcomed the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry to renew direct talks between our government and the Palestinian Authority. We have no illusion that the road we undertake to travel is going to be smooth. The stakes have not changed. Those who clamour for Israeli withdrawal from territories seem to overlook the fact that the conflict is not only about borders. Security-related issues are equally important. We expect our neighbours to respect our right to self determination as the Jewish State, just as they insist on their identity as a Palestinian State. The eventual agreement should state explicitly that once it is signed and implemented the conflict will have come to an end.
These and other issues that we will have to tackle are momentous and touch on every facet of our lives as a nation. Yet, as Israel has demonstrated time and again in the past, when the opportunity for change presents itself, our leaders have shown courage and determination to move forward.
This new chapter in our voyage towards peace requires patience and perseverance. As we re-launch our efforts, we are encouraged by the voices of those who understand that there are no shortcuts along the way and simplistic slogans do the cause of peace a disservice.
We have a vision which is common to all peace-loving nations and is applicable to all. It is embedded in one of our most traditional prayers: He, who creates peace in His Celestial Heights, may He create peace for all of us and all Israel and all Humanity and say Amen.
Let us all re-iterate our hope that the vision of peace will become a reality and that this time our efforts will bear fruit.
Yosef Livne is the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand.