10 Years to the Geneva Initiative - Leading the Way to Peace

 

Key note speaker Yuval Diskin, former head of the Israel Security Agency: the implications of not solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict present a greater existential threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear project

 

On Wednesday the 4 December the Geneva Initiative held a conference "10 Years to the Geneva Initiative: Leading the Way to Peace" which took place in Tel Aviv with 800 participants attending. A screen was set up in the foyer to accommodate the large overflow. The conference was organized in cooperation with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
 
Keynote Speaker, Yuval Diskin, former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) made a clear statement that the "implications of not solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict present a greater existential threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear project". To great applause, Diskin added that Israel must freeze settlement building and warned that the number of settlers in the West Bank will approach a level that no government will be able to remove.
 
Yuval Diskin addresses the packed hall (Photo credit: Shalom Ansi)
 
He added that "This is perhaps the last opportunity to reach a two state solution and the Geneva Initiative provides a solid foundation for an agreement." Diskin said that the release of Palestinian prisoners was a vital part of the political process, but, "the releases must be done during the final stages of an agreement and not like the nauseating, cynical political deal which was done to prevent a settlement freeze."
 
Diskin called on Israeli leaders to take bold steps for peace including speaking in Ramallah and inviting Abu Mazen to the Knesset. He added: "We must form a new coalition of parties that support peace."
 
During the conference MK Yakov Margi of Shas lit the eight candles for the last night of the Jewish festival of Hannukah and noted that "We are also partners to the Geneva Initiative and in the dialogue with the Palestinians. What is very clear is that we urgently need a peace agreement."
MK Yakov Margi of Shas: "We are also partners to the Geneva Initiative and in the dialogue with the Palestinians"
(Photo credit: Shalom Ansi)
 
Mr. Robert H. Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, congratulated the Geneva Initiative on its efforts said: "There is a partner in Ramallah. Significant progress in the peace process will allow Israel to live in peace in the Middle East and to strengthen its international standing. I believe that peace is still possible if the publics on both sides push their leaderships to show the same determination and courage that the Geneva Initiative leaders did ten years ago. I can assure you the support of the international community."
 
Dr Samih al-Abed, member of the Palestinian Negotiating team and Geneva Initiative said: "We are looking for our freedom by ending the occupation and to gain our dignity by having our own state. We are talking about the two state solution – We want a better future for both our children and grandchildren and your children and grandchildren. I think that we can work together in good faith to achieve a two state solution, but time is of the essence and the alternatives are not good for either of us"
 
Other conference participants included Yossi Beilin, former Justice Minister and Chairman of the Geneva Initiative, Zahava Gal-On, Chairperson of Meretz, Michael Biton, Mayor of Yerucham, MK's Moshe Mizrahi (Labor), Omer Barlev (Labor), Dov Khenin (Hadash) and Amram Mitzna (Hatnua), Michael Mertes, Head of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office in Israel and Ambassador Wolfgang Amadeus Bruelhart, Assistant State Secretary, Swiss Foreign Ministry. The event was also attended by dozens of rabbis and key political activists from Shas and the Likud as well as senior diplomats.
 
The conference received wide coverage in the media: