In Focus

High-Level Meeting in Ramallah

On January 8th, a Geneva Initiative delegation of Israeli Members of Knesset and former security officials met in Ramallah with senior PA officials and civil society activists. They talked about recent political developments and what is being done on each side in order to break the current political impasse and to encourage their leadership to negotiate a peace agreement based on the Two-State Solution.
In the absence of formal peace talks, these meetings become all the more important. They help us keep open channels of communication and build bridges between the two societies. In 2018, we remain committed to holding regular bilateral meetings between high-level Israelis and Palestinians, and to continue to demonstrate to people on both sides that they have partners for peace.

Palestinian-Israeli meeting in Beijing results in a paper on steps to reignite Peace Process

The Chinese government recently expressed its interest to increase its involvement in the Middle East Peace Process. One of their first steps was to organize, in partnership with the Geneva Initiative, a high-level meeting between Israeli and Palestinian delegations in Beijing. The two teams met between December 20-22 in the Chinese capital for an intensive dialogue on how to reignite the Peace Process. The discussions resulted in an Israeli-Palestinian paper that was endorsed by the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs and his ministry. The paper outlines various steps that can help bring the current deadlock to an end, focusing on measures to be undertaken by the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, the role to be played by the local civil societies and the role to be played by the international community, particularly China.

On the issue of China’s involvement, the paper states that as a global power, China can “play a significant role by paving the way for a stronger and more efficient international engagement, acting in coordination with other global and regional players, as well as with the local civil societies, to create the right conditions for a successful resumption of the peace process”.
As part of the visit, the Palestinian and Israeli delegations also met with the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Wang Yi and several other MFA officials. Minister Wang Yi told the delegations that “it is vital that peace supporters from the two sides continue to meet, especially now. You have your disagreements, but you share a common peaceful aspiration. The message of hope must be preserved, and must be voiced”.

Minister Wang Yi with the Palestinian and Israeli Directors of the Geneva Initiative

The GI’s view on Trump’s Jerusalem speech: borders are the issue, not recognition

President Trump’s Jerusalem speech has been praised by many Israeli officials and heavily criticized by local and international actors. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a mistake, they say, and will only undermine the chances for peace. But the real issue is not the status of Jerusalem. It’s Jerusalem’s borders.
Contrary to common belief, recognition has never really been the problem. In fact, even the official position of the PLO is that under a final-status agreement, West Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, alongside East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
What President Trump said yesterday was not un-true, but it was also not the whole truth. When he said that the final Israeli borders in Jerusalem should be negotiated, he failed to mention what will happen on the other side of those borders. Had he also added that under a final-status agreement the State of Palestine could also have its capital in the city, his speech could have made a real contribution to the peace process. It was ignoring the latter - not recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - that made this speech so unhelpful.
The Geneva Accord illustrates how a reality in which two internationally recognized capitals reside in Jerusalem will look like: West Jerusalem, the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, including the Wailing Wall, will be under Israeli sovereignty. The Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, al-Haram al-Sharif and the remaining quarters of the Old City will be under Palestinian sovereignty.
We urge the international community, including the U.S., to present a new framework for launching genuine negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, leading to the only realistic solution to the conflict: A Two-State agreement based on the 67 borders. In the meantime, we at the Geneva Initiative will continue to work relentlessly with the two societies and political classes so that as things unfold, a clear and laud voice in support of the a negotiated peace agreement will be heard on both sides.

Engaging Youth in Ramallah

In November, the Palestinian Peace Coalition-Geneva Initiative held a two-day seminar in Ramallah, focusing on the role of youth in bringing a positive change to their society and politics.
As part of the seminar, the young participants heard lectures from various experts, including former minister and member of the Palestinian negotiating team Samih Abid and PPC-GI Director Nidal Foqaha. The two spoke about recent efforts to achieve internal Palestinian reconciliation, and the opportunities and challenges faced by the peace process with Israel.
One of the highlights of the seminar was a conversation with the Finnish representative in Ramallah, Ambassador Anna Kaisa. The Ambassador spoke about the Finnish experience in empowering youth, and especially young women, to bring forth change in their society.

Israeli Russian-speakers meet young Palestinian political activists for the first time

In early November, we brought together a group of young Palestinian political and social activists and a group of young leaders from the Israeli Russian-speaking community. None of them has ever set down for a serious conversation with someone from the other side before.
At the end of the meeting, one Palestinian participant said that for the first time in a very long period, he is hopeful about the future. “I met people like me today, they want peace and security for themselves and their children. I think that that is what the majority of Israelis and Palestinians want. We just need to figure out how to make our voices heard.”
This meeting was made possible through the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development.

The View from the Other Side: Seminar for young Israelis and Palestinians

One of the things we like to do when we bring together Israelis and Palestinians is to let them play the role of peace negotiators – only, we ask the Israelis to represent the Palestinian side and the Palestinians to represent the Israeli side. We did this exercise during a seminar we held in late October fr young Israelis and Palestinians, and one hour later, we had a very surprised group of people. “I found out that what I’d thought were red lines for Palestinians – regarding borders, refugees, security - are not red lines at all”, said one Israeli participant after playing a Palestinian negotiator. “and it’s funny – all I needed to do was to ask them what they really think about these issues, something I’ve never done before”.

Geneva Initiative Briefing for European Diplomats

A Geneva Initiative delegation recently traveled to Bern, Switzerland, to brief representatives from key European states about our efforts to promote peace. We talked about making peace from the bottom up, starting at the level of the people; and we presented concrete ways to help people on both sides overcome the many psychological barriers that make conflict resolution so difficult.
Having worked with tens of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians over the years, we always say that there are partners for peace on both sides of the conflict (we know, because we’ve met them). But the truth is that while there are two parties to the conflict, there are many more partners for peace: peace supporters in Israel and Palestine have friends in the international community that are determined to help them resolve their conflict.
Annual Report - 2017
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