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November 2008 Newsletter
Updates from our Israeli Office
Updates from our Palestinian Office

Dear Friends,

Below please find Geneva Initiative's monthly report for November.

The past month has marked the beginning of the current election season in Israel, with the leading parties launching their campaigns and electing their representatives. In this atmosphere of political change, Geneva Initiative continues to work continuously to promote public support for the peace process and influence the decision makers to adopt more constructive political agendas.
As part of these efforts, we took part in public campaigns aimed at raising Israeli awareness to the Arab Peace Initiative and bringing it to the top of the national agenda. Next week, we're set to launch our own major public campaign to raise support for the peace process, calling on the parties to address the political process in their platforms and election campaigns. The campaign will highlight the Geneva Accord as a solution for the conflict that looks out for Israel's interests.

Also in November, the Peace Index, a survey among the Israeli public conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, found solid support among the Jewish Israeli public for the establishment of a Palestinian state (58% support compared with 36% opposition). An even larger majority, 61%, regarded the Palestinians’ claim to an independent state of their own as justified. The survey's main findings are available on our website.

Best Regards,

Ruthie
Foreign Relations Coordinator
Geneva Initiative
Tel: +972-3-6938789
Email: ruthie@heskem.org.il
www.geneva-accord.org

 

Geneva Initiative Monthly Report

November 2008

December opened with a major Geneva Initiative conference of experts, attended by about 300 people, on the core issue of Jerusalem.

Among the speakers at the three-panel conference were Israeli experts, journalists, and politicians, alongside foreign emissaries and Palestinian experts, including Dr. Rafiq al-Husseini, Chief of Staff to President Mahmoud Abbas.

GI Director General Gadi Baltiansky, GI co-architect Yossi Beilin, Dr. Rafiq al-Husseini, and French Ambassador Jean-Michal Casa, 1/12/2008
GI Director General Gadi Baltiansky, GI co-architect Yossi Beilin, Dr. Rafiq al-Husseini, and French Ambassador Jean-Michal Casa, 1/12/2008

The speakers surveyed the current situation in East and West Jerusalem, as well as in the Old City, presented various solutions for the problem, and discussed the difficulties in changing public discourse on this contentious issue. A full summary of the conference is available on our website.

 

In November, we launched our new joint Israeli-Palestinian English-language website (www.geneva-accord.org). We invite you to continue visiting the site, as we update it and improve it throughout this transition period.

 

As in previous years, Geneva Initiative participated in the annual rally commemorating the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was the first prime minister to advance peace with the Palestinians. This year, Geneva Initiative activists carried a banner with the statement "In his footsteps. The Geneva Accord", referring to Rabin's legacy of peace. The huge banner was a central fixture within the audience, and all images of the rally in the media thus contained our message.


Geneva Initiative at Rabin memorial rally, 8/11/2008

 

As part of our work with future leaders, we pushed forward with our Political Leadership Seminar at Tel Aviv University, organized by GI in cooperation with the TAU Student Union. This past month, in addition to lectures by Brig. Gen. (ret,) Israela Oron, Palestinian Peace and Democracy Forum Chair Saman Khoury, and Adi Mintz of the Yesha settlement council, the students attended a joint Israeli-Palestinian seminar in Jordan, where they discussed possible projects to advance peace with their Palestinian peers. 

A Palestinian students speaks with an Israeli student at the seminar in Jordan, 28-20/11/2008

A Palestinian students speaks with an Israeli student at the seminar in Jordan, 28-20/11/2008

 
 

Tour of the separation barrier for Russian-speaking Israelis
Tour of the separation barrier for Russian-speaking Israelis

Also in November, we held two tours of the separation barrier for leading members of the Russian-speaking community in Israel. The tours for the Russian community are guided in Russian by GI representative Sasha Kogan and are a central part of our ongoing work with Israel's large Russian constituency, which includes about 1,000,000 Israelis. In addition to tours, Geneva Initiative maintains a Russian-language website and conducts conferences and seminars, with the aim of reaching as much of this population as possible.

 

Two other significant activities in November were Geneva Initiative local leadership assemblies for a total of 170 people. For the first assembly, Regional Council Head Carmel Sela welcomed Geneva Initiative in Kibbutz Sdot Yam to address local leaders from all towns of the Hof HaCarmel regional council near Haifa. The other assembly was held in Kibbutz Bar'am for local leaders from all towns of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, with the participation of Regional Council Head Aharon Valenssi. Col. (ret.) Shaul Arieli, and former Palestinian Minister Sufyan Abu-Zeideh, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, spoke to participants at both assemblies, presenting central issues in the Israeli-Palestinian political process as well as the Palestinian perspective on the conflict.


Hof HaCarmel Regional council head Carmel Sela and former Minister Sufyan Abu-Zaideh, 4/11/2008

 

Geneva Initiative also continued its long-running educational program in high schools, which has thus far reached over 10,000 high school students and hundreds of teachers across Israel. The project includes workshops and activities for students and teachers, taking place at the high school over two consecutive days. In November, we held this program for 11th graders at the Chernichovsky High School in Netanya and 12th graders at the Nesher High School in Haifa. Hundreds of students participated in both activities, which concluded with panel discussions with leading Israeli political figures. National Religious Party MK Arieh Eldad and former Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin spoke to some 210 students in Netanya, while Eldad spoke opposite Adv. Talia Sasson, a former top Justice Ministry official, in Haifa.

High school students at the Chernichovsky High School in Netanya, 19-20/11/2008
High school students at the Chernichovsky High School in Netanya, 19-20/11/2008
 

Israeli and Palestinian Geneva Initiative representatives, along with additional experts from both sides, have been working hard to finalize the annexes to the Geneva Accord, which will present detailed solution for the various mechanisms mentioned in the Accord. With work intensifying in November, the teams have been working separately and jointly to conclude the efforts that have gone into these annexes in the years since the Geneva Accord was first presented. As part of this work, the Israeli and Palestinian experts met in Turin and have made much progress in resolving all issues of disagreement.

An additional activity in November was a lecture by GI representative Elad Dunayevsky to students in Jerusalem. Dunayevsky discussed the Geneva Accord, GI's activities, and the possibility of reaching a political solution to the conflict.

Finally, as part of a Peace Now conference at Tel Aviv University, GI Director General Gadi Baltiansky spoke to Tel Aviv University students about the lessons to be learned from the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the future of the political process. Baltiansky spoke opposite Adv. Dov Weissglas, former chief advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
 

Geneva Initiative

More information about the Geneva Initiative, including relevant press clippings and articles is available at: www.geneva-accord.org.

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