In Focus

Liberman prevents the Geneva Initiative from meeting President Abbas

The Israeli Minister of Defense prevented the heads of the Geneva Initiative from meeting with President Abbas, in what has turned out to be a clearly politically motivated decision.

The meeting, which was scheduled to take place Monday (July 11), was supposed to bring together the heads of the Geneva Initiative, several senior members of Likud, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the PA’s liaison to Israel Muhammad Al-Madani. As required from Israelis who want to visit Palestinian cities, the Geneva Initiative applied for a permit to enter Ramallah. The request was denied due to the current “security considerations”, which came as a surprise as the Geneva Initiative visits Palestinian cities often, including since the latest wave of violence has began. On Monday evening, however, Channel 10 quoted the Defense Minister spokesman saying that the decision was in fact not based on security considerations but spurred by suspicions that Al-Madani has been involved in "internal Israeli political affairs".

“We will meet the Palestinian partner, if not this week - then next week.”, says Gadi Baltiansky, Geneva Initiative’s Israeli Director General. “Not only does the Israeli government refuse to talk to the Palestinian leadership – it also won’t let anyone else to, but nothing will stop us from building the necessary bridges that will eventually lead us to peace”. Click here for today's report at Haaretz.




Seminar for Key Political Activists

In late June, we held a two-day seminar for 40 key Israeli political activists. The seminar provided the participants with an understanding of the history of the conflict and negotiations, core issues of the conflict, the narrative of the other side, the two-state solution and the potential fruits of peace.
Participants were key political activists from across the Israeli political spectrum, especially ones from centrist and right-wing parties such as Likud, Kulanu and Yesh Atid. They also included leading social activists who live and operate in Israel's social/geographic periphery. The diverse and inclusive nature of this group created an extremely stimulating environment in which participants constantly challenged each other's views and opinions.
As part of the seminar, the participants got to talk to Ashraf Al-Ajrami, former Palestinian Minister of Prisoners, who told them about the 'Palestinian partner'. Explaining why it is so hard for moderate Israelis and Palestinians to be heard, Al-Ajarmi said that "during a conflict, extremist rhetoric is always the one to prevail - and so no one is able to hear the moderate voices of those who want a normal life for themselves and their children." The conversation was heated, at times emotional; but for many of the participants, who have never had a chance to speak with a Palestinian former official before, this encounter was nothing less than eye opening. One Likud activist wondered after she met him: "could it really be that there are people on the other side who genuinely want peace? why is it that we never hear them - is it them who fail to be heard, or us who fail to listen"?

Meeting with the French Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process

In mid June, the Palestinian and Israeli Directors General of the Geneva Initiative, Nidal Foqaha and Gadi Baltiansky, met with Pierre Vimont, the French Special Envoy for the preparation of the international conference to renew the Middle East peace process.
Foqaha and Baltiansky expressed the GI's support for the French Initiative, and discussed possible ways in which the GI can contribute to its success.
This meeting followed a series of consultations we have held in recent weeks with other Diplomats and Officials. We are pleased to see that our friends in the international community refuse to accept the current stalemate in the Peace Process.


Shas activists: dialogue with the Palestinians is urgently needed

35 leading Shas activists, including local council members, heads of municipal religious committees and journalists took part in a unique day-long workshop we held in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.


In the morning, the group toured the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem with Lt. Col. (res.) Ron Shatzberg, who told them about the demographic and political trends in the city, as well as about the daily lives of local residents. This was the first time most of the participants have ever seen the Eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and were shocked to see from up close the gap between the symbol of Jerusalem as the "unified capital of Israel", and the reality on the ground.
One participant, Deputy Mayor of the City of Ofakim, said: "one can really see how neglected, crowded and poor these neighborhoods are. The lack of services and poor living conditions here in East Jerusalem clearly create a volatile atmosphere. Perhaps peace can calm things down".


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