Geneva Initiative Annexes
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"How to Recruit Two Partners for an Agreement" Conference

"How to Recruit Two Partners for an Agreement" Conference
Date: 18.09.06

Summary of Geneva Initiative

"How to Recruit Two Partners for an Agreement" Conference,

September 18th, 2006; Tel Aviv

 

The Geneva Initiative (GI) "How to Recruit Two Partners for an Agreement" conference, was attended by c. 200 people, with representatives from over 30 embassies. In the audience were also current and former MKs, academicians and members of the GI Public Council. The conference was divided into two sessions, which were facilitated by GI Director-General, Gadi Baltiansky. After both panels, participants presented the respective speakers with questions regarding the Geneva Initiative solution and regarding public opinion trends which statistics testify to on each of the sides.

 

The first panel presented updated statistics on public opinion of both sides and a strategic analysis of the current political context. Speakers were GI Signatory and Former Deputy Commander of the IDF Strategic Planning Division, Brigadier General (Res.) Shlomo Brom and Dr. Khalil Shikaki – Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

 

Mr. Brom stated that the unilateral era has ended and that the Israeli government should negotiate with whoever is willing to negotiate on the Palestinian side. Brom concluded that the best way to create a Palestinian partner to enable the establishment of a large Palestinian coalition, which will seek to reach an agreement on a "two sates for two peoples" model solution.

Dr. Shikaki explained that Hamas won the majority of seats as a result of the election method which does not truthfully reflect the will of the Palestinian majority. According to Shikaki the unilateral disengagement from Gaza strengthened the feeling, amongst the Palestinian public, that Israel's withdrawal is the result of Palestinian violence. Dr Shikaki presented a statistical analysis which shows that over 80% of Palestinians support an agreement through bilateral negotiations with the Israeli side, and that in June 2006 44% of Palestinians supported the parameters of the Geneva Accord (for a summary of statistics from Dr. Shikaki's latest survey, please see annex 1).

Further to these statistics, Gadi Baltianskt presented the findings of a survey commissioned by GI during September 2006, which teaches that 60% of Israelis support negotiations with the Palestinians with the purpose of reaching a final agreement to end the conflict (for a summary of statistics presented by Gadi Baltiansky, please see annex 2)

 

Participants of the second panel – [MK Danny Yatom (Labour); MK Zehava Gal'on (Meretz) and MK Israel Hason (Yisrael Beiteinu), as well as Former Minister of Prisoners' Affairs in the PA, Dr. Sufian Abu Zaida] explained their perspective on how best to proceed from the current situation and their evaluation regarding the possibility of both an Israeli and a Palestinian partner for an endgame.

 

In short, MK Galon stated that the best solution to the current deadlock is for the Israeli government to realize that the PA is headed for a unity government which Israel will have to negotiate with, and that the Geneva Accord proposes the best solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. MK Yatom emphasized that the Palestinian unity government must agree to the three terms that the Quartet has set forth in order to be considered by Israel as a true partner, and that talks with Abu Mazen should be pursued to immediately halt all violence and to negotiate the return of the Gilad Shalit as part of a larger agreement for prisoner exchange between the sides. According to MK Hasson, as long as Israelis and Palestinians exist there will be partners on both sides however, seeing as both sides lack a leadership that is able to reach a permanent status agreement, the only way in which the conflict can be solved is through the involvement of the international community. MK Hasson also mentioned that he believes such a solution could ripen within the next three years. Dr. Abu Zaida remarked that a unity government is the best option for the Palestinians seeing as the alternative could lead to the collapse of the PA, and that the Hamas was initially voted into power because of the Palestinians' dissatisfaction with Fatah rather than their familiarization with Hamas ideology. Dr. Abu Zaida mentioned that the Hamas has begun a gradual process of centralizing its policy and that its leadership realizes that contracts signed with Israel in the past, cannot simply be ignored. Dr. Abu Zaida concluded that any future agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians – even if it should be enforced by the international community – will be along the lines of the Geneva Accord.