Exclusive interview with Yossi Beilin on the prospects of peace

By Gabriel Bacalor, via International.to (Telegraph Group)
28.12.2011
via International.to (click here for full article)

 

Yossi Beilin, architect and Chairman of the Geneva Initiative, gives an exclusive interview with economist Gabriel Bacalor about his view regarding the peace process.

[Excerpt]

-Why are Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) so inflexible during peace negotiations?

The current PA government does not have the means to close a comprehensive agreement and the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has no serious intention of doing so.

Netanyahu does not seem willing to pay the price of peace, which involves putting half of Jerusalem on the negotiation table and recognizing a Palestinian state under agreed borders based on the boundaries before the 1967 war.

President Abbas shows a willingness to reach an agreement, but does not control the Gaza Strip, from which Hamas attacks, often at Israeli civilians.

-What is the thinking behind the Israeli government's continuing construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank?

I believe it seeks to gain time, asking of the Palestinians preconditions which are not acceptable, to claim that it is the PA who do not want to negotiate.

Netanyahu hopes that the Republicans prevail in the upcoming U.S. elections, and this will reduce the international pressure on Israel.

- In your opinion, which current public figures can offer positive advances for the peace process?

There are many capable people with high moral values ​​in politics. Internationally, I think Barack Obama is one of them, not only for his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but for his internal and global political outlooks as well.

In Israel there are also very good politicians. I can think of Dan Meridor of Likud, as well as many others. However, none of them are willing yet, or have the political circumstances, the power or the courage, to execute the actions that Israel requires for peace proceedings.

- If Israel agreed to discuss a Palestinian state, would it improve its international standing?

Certainly. Taking the peace proposal of the Arab League as a reference, the creation of a Palestinian state is the key to normalizing relations between Israel and its regional neighbors.

The vast majority of the world's 57 Muslim countries would support this initiative and would encourage Israel's position at international meetings.

-Should Israel talk with Hamas?

I am in favor of opening dialogue with Hamas as with anyone open to discussion, but Hamas is not ready for dialogue with Israel.

The dialogue with Hamas must involve both the operational aspects that improve the quality of life for Gazans, as well as the structural issues that allow a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Perhaps in the future, Hamas may join the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Israel will be able to negotiate with a unified entity. Unfortunately, the current dispersion of the Palestinian leadership, seen by the fact that Hamas control the Gaza Strip while Al-Fatah govern the West Bank, is an impediment to achieving a comprehensive agreement.

-What agreement could reasonably be reached under the current circumstances?

An interim agreement, based on the parameters set by the Geneva Initiative.

Today, every feasible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, negotiating the territorial division based on the limits of 1967, and settling the problem of Palestinian refugees mostly within the limits of the new Arab state.

However, the fundamental problem is not "the solution", but who will be the leaders with the courage to run and pay, on both sides, the price of peace.

To view the full interview, click here