Geneva Initiative Annexes
Geneva Initiative Annexes

Search:

GI Israel Position Paper: Leftalk

GI Israel Position Paper: Leftalk
Date: 12.08.07

In recent weeks, public discourse in Israel has become bizarre: on one hand, the political process has taken center stage within the Olmert government, which is proclaiming its desire to establish a Palestinian state. At times it seems as if Olmert, Livni and Ramon are competing to see who can make the "boldest" statement, and on Monday, a new political plan by President Shimon Peres was disclosed. On the other hand, the voice of those considered as traditionally left remains quiet and is not taking part in the discourse that it should be leading. On Wednesday, August 8th, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the leader of the "dovish" party in the government, was quoted as saying Israel should not withdraw from land in the West Bank before a defensive system against rockets and missiles is established—a process that would take three to five years.

In order for the left to reassume its responsibilities, in order for talk of peace to become actual activity, and in order to not miss the newly created window of opportunity—of which the international community, the Arab community, the Palestinian leadership and the Israeli leadership are speaking—Geneva Initiative Israel claims that:

1. It is the role of the peace camp to push for the translation of peace statements into actions. The Labor Ministers, who have applied to themselves their party leader's silence, should be the ones urging the Prime Minister and the Kadima Ministers to utilize the current political opportunity. In order to ensure that the opportunity is not missed, they must force the government to turn its statements into actions.

2. The peace camp, both within the political system and outside it, must make its voice heard and urge the country's leadership to implement its statements. Instead of assuming that the new voices for peace are enough, and instead of waiting for the right to circumstances to respond, the peace camp must lead the government to action for peace. Not supplying a backwind that would set the government in motion and not creating public pressure – could facilitate a situation in which the government ultimately avoids action.

3. There are many actions which could already be implemented on the ground in order to transform peace statements into an actual process. Evacuating the Hebron structures last Tuesday, August 7th, was a first small step on the road to a process. The next step should be to remove unnecessary roadblocks, which harm Palestinian livelihood. The small number of opponents to the evacuation in Hebron should guide the government when considering its next steps, and should make it clear to the peace camp that there is a majority among the Israeli public that supports ending the occupation and reaching a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians (this was also illustrated in a New Wave Research public opinion poll from July 2007).

4. The public pressure should lead Israelis and Palestinians to discuss a final status agreement and arrive at the summit planned by U.S. President Bush for the fall, with a wide-ranging document of understandings. Arriving at the summit without such a document would make the summit pointless and ineffective. To achieve this, there must be intense final status negotiations between Olmert and Abbas and between various Ministerial and official echelons.

5. The idea of exchanging settlement blocs with Arab community blocs within Israel does not measure up to the values of ethics, law, and basic decency, and is impractical. Introducing this component into the agreement also essentially harms Israel interest: While the Geneva Initiative proposes the return of unpopulated areas of Israel to the Palestinian Authority, this proposal actually allows for a return to a demographic discussion surrounding the 1947 borders instead of the 1967 borders. The left must oppose this component in the plan, which could turn Minister Avigdor Lieberman's position into Israel's official position.