Geneva Initiative Annexes
Geneva Initiative Annexes

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"Yes, but…" and not "No, but…"

"Yes, but…" and not "No, but…"
Date: 29.03.07
Following the statements of the Arab League from the 28th -29th of March 2007, the Geneva Initiatives' position is that the Israeli government should...

Following the statements of the Arab League from the 28th -29th of March 2007, the Geneva Initiatives' position is that the Israeli government should:
1. Applaud the recent years' change in the Arab League's attitude towards Israel.
2. Revive the forgotten narrative, which characterized Israel's governments and leadership for many years, and according to which Israel never says "No" to Peace proposals, but is always willing to meet and negotiate with those willing to do so.
3. Accept the "Saudi Initiative", with reservations regarding certain elements in it, as a basis for negotiations on a final status agreement.
4. Declare its willingness to negotiate with each Arab country separately- or all Arab countries together- and to initiate talks with them.  

The Israeli government must acknowledge the substantial change that occurred in the Arab Leagues' attitude towards Israel: In May 1948 the Arab League Governments declared that "the only solution for the Palestinian problem is the establishment of one Palestinian state." Furthermore, when Egypt signed the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the Arab League's Institutes were removed from Cairo and Egypt was boycotted. However, in the Arab League Initiative statement from March 29th, 2007- based on the endorsement of the "Saudi Initiative" and the "Beirut Declaration" of March 2002- the Arab League has acknowledged Israel, is willing to normalize relations with it and declare an end to the conflict, on three terms: The establishment of a Palestinian state, Israel's withdrawal to the June 4th, 1967 borders and an agreed upon solution to the refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194.

The changes that have taken place in the Arab League's stand need to lead Israel, as a peace-seeking state, to change its own stand. Instead of completely dismissing peace initiatives – Israel should accept them, while holding reservations on certain elements with which she does not agree. Instead of determining preconditions and saying "no" (while applauding "some elements" of the peace initiatives), Israel's government should adopt the opposite line of logic: say "yes" with reservations on certain elements.

Over the years Israel's governments and leaderships have stated their desire to bring peace to the region and negotiate with anyone who is willing to advance this ideal. This claim should lead the current Israeli Government's actions too. In the same way that Israel responded to President Bush's Roadmap by accepting the plan, while adding her own comments to it, so should Israel do with the Saudi Initiative: accept it and state reservations on specific aspects.
Instead of stating the "positive elements" of the Saudi Initiative, as PM Olmert has done, but not accepting it – Israel's Prime Minister should accept the Initiative as a basis for permanent status negotiations and state its "problematic" elements.