FAQ

(July 2009)
Although there is no formal negotiations channel at present, the Geneva Accord from 2003 and new ideas which have been subsequently formulated are indeed very relevant. The best indication for this is the frequent references to the Geneva Initiative made by various press outlets – some of which are translated to English and available on this website. In the current context, Israeli PM Netanyahu has stated that he endorses the "two-states for two peoples" solution (in his government's cabinet meeting from Sunday, July 5) but has given a list of terms which the Palestinian state should abide by. All of PM Netanyahu's terms have already been addressed and solved in the Geneva Accord, the principles of which are supported by the majority of Israelis and Palestinians. On the Palestinian side, the first delegation that President Abbas received in his capacity as Palestinian President was a group of Israeli Geneva Initiative signatories.
Regarding the Geneva Initiative's involvement and relevance in the peace process in general, during the last official round of Israeli-Palestinian talks further to Annapolis, Israel's daily, Ma'ariv, noted that "Olmert himself read through the Geneva Accord and seemed impressed. The Geneva Initiative people enlisted in the effort. Most of the draft documents for the ‘joint declaration’ that were leaked to the press came from the Palestinian side and were drafted in Tel Aviv, at the Geneva offices. (Foreign Minister) Tzipi Livni was familiar with all these materials. She was also in continuous contact with the Geneva people” (30.11.2007).

The model agreement gives detailed solutions on all issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There will be two independent states – Israel and Palestine, side by side, recognizing each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity and establishing full diplomatic relations. The borders will be based on the 1967 lines (or green line) with minor, mutual modifications, whereby the vast majority of Israeli settlers will stay and be part of Israel’s new borders while the rest are evacuated and the Palestinians will receive an equal amount of land from within Israel in exchange. The Israeli and Palestinian areas of Jerusalem will be the capitals of the respective states with each side’s holy places fully under its sovereignty. Palestinian refugees will be given options from 5 permanent places of residence – the Palestinian State with its new swapped lands will be open to all, other options, Israel included, are at the sovereign discretion of the state concerned. Refugees will receive compensation and an international body established to oversee this entire process. Security arrangements will provide guarantees to Israel, without violating Palestinian sovereignty and will be overseen by a Multinational Force stationed in Palestine. All parties are committed to preventing and opposing any terror or incitement. These detailed articles along with agreements on many other issues would constitute an end to the conflict and all claims. To read the full text click here, and to see the maps click here.

The Geneva Initiative is not an academic plan designed to collect dust on the shelf - quite the opposite – it is an educational and political mobilizing tool whose aim is to shift public opinion and policy in the direction of a comprehensive endgame peace. By providing a detailed blueprint for an agreement, the Geneva Initiative proves that there are patrners on both sides, that there are solutions to all issues and that peace is possible. To this end, the Geneva Initiative has established Israeli and Palestinian offices in Tel Aviv and Ramallah respectively where each side works to promote the two-state solution and the idea of negotiations on an endgame agreement as the most desirable, and feasible way to end the conflict.

The model agreement was “negotiated” by Israelis and Palestinians with years and years of experience as senior officials, ministers, negotiators and generals. The Geneva Initiative cartographers for instance had sat opposite each other as official negotiators on territorial issues for close to a decade until they joined the Geneva Initiative, and the drafters had faced each other in previous official roles at the Taba talks.

The Palestinians include ministers, members of the PLO Executive Committee, key figures from the younger generation leadership of the Fatah Movement, former Palestinian prisoners, and experts on the conflict.

Numbered amongst the Israelis are the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, ex-head of the Shin Bet and Deputy Head of the Mossad – retired generals and police chiefs, current and former ministers, parliamentarians from an array of different political parties, business people and academics, and many others. They have been joined by citizens from all walks of civil society.

Such a gallery of personalities cannot easily be ignored. To view the list of original signatories click here.

According to the variety of public opinion surveys at times commissioned by the Geneva Initiative and on different occasions conducted independently by Israeli and Palestinian research institutes there is a clear majority on both sides for the idea of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

First, for the reasons of personal self interest for each Israeli. There is no military solution, and ending the conflict and creating a climate of peace is the best way to improve the standard of living, attract jobs, free resources to improve education, infrastructure, health-care and welfare. We would also argue that any broad definition of Israel’s national security interest should take into account economic strength, investment in the future, citizen satisfaction, immigration levels, internal solidarity and Israel’s standing in the world – all of these would likely be well served by ending the conflict.

Of course, Israeli security, more narrowly defined, is what matters most. A Geneva Initiative style solution provides Israel with an internationally recognized and defensible border. Israel can best defend itself from such a border, rather than the current separation barrier which has Israelis on both sides of it! Israel’s interest is not served by controlling Palestinians who are not its citizens and by spending precious money on areas that will eventually be evacuated, even by having soldiers guard isolated settlements and patrol Palestinian towns. The Geneva Initiative also provides detailed security arrangements and guarantees clear anti-terror steps, and further to the Arab League Initiative of 2002 - would lead to Israeli recognition by, and peaceful relations with the broader Arab world. Jerusalem – in all its Jewish neighborhoods and holy sites will finally be accepted and recognized as Israel’s capital. Geneva is the best guarantee for Israel to retain its Jewish character.

First, for the reasons of personal self interest for each Palestinian. There is no military solution, and ending the conflict and creating a climate of peace is the best way to finally end the occupation and build an independent Palestine, which can deliver the basic needs, hopes and aspirations of each Palestinian – freedom, personal and economic security and a very different future.

Palestinian interests are not served by trying to bomb Israel out of existence – it is not our way, we are better than that, and it will not provide Palestinians with the future they deserve and desire. We cannot condemn Palestinian children and future generations to endless suffering and occupation.

If the Geneva Initiative is implemented then there will be a Palestinian state on the equivalent of all the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 – with no Israeli soldiers and no checkpoints and a multinational force for guaranteed security. Jerusalem – in all its Palestinian neighborhoods and holy sites – will again be open to Palestinians and recognized as Palestine's capital. The refugees will finally have solutions, rights, and choices, and also compensation – with Palestine as a guaranteed home. For too long, Palestinians have suffered and their cause has been paid lip service – the Geneva Initiative proposes solutions, not just nice words – to end the occupation, end the settlements, end the checkpoints – and give Palestinians a future, on their land, which they control.

Actually, this is probably the wrong way to look at things. We are trying to end a conflict, achieve security, build a future, not have a football match where there must be winners and losers. As history shows, if any side is humiliated by a “peace” then it will not last and can be a recipe for future conflict. So, in truth, both sides make concessions. We would describe this as a situation of two winners. Both sides should come out of this agreement with respect and dignity, their vital national interests in tact and with real prospects for an improved future for their people.

It is in Israel’s interest that the future Palestinian state is stable, sustainable, and a successful neighbor – not a failed and anarchic state.

It is in the Palestinian’s interest that Israel feels as a secure and recognized sovereign entity in the region, with its unique character.

Both sides though do make serious and real compromises and this is why the Geneva Initiative was criticized and attacked by ultra-nationalist, rightist extremist and fundamentalist forces in Palestine and Israel.

The intention of the Geneva Initiative is that by proving that there is a detailed set of arrangements – a peace deal – acceptable to the majority of Israelis and Palestinians – we can actually change the reality on both sides and encourage the leaders to make peace. Our logic for both peoples, and despite the tremendous gaps in economic circumstances, is as follows: as long as this conflict continues, Israelis and Palestinians cannot progress and develop as they should: not in having daily security, not in their Governments' investment in education, health and welfare, in attracting overseas investment and in guaranteeing a better future for all of us. And the conflict can be solved, as the Geneva Initative proves. Other burning issues in both communities are not resolved as the “conflict” always takes priority on the national agenda, and for the politicians. So actually, to support the Geneva Initative is an act of self interest, not just national interest.

Anyone who claims that we can really improve the social-economic situation for both people, attract more jobs, improve schooling, care for the elderly, and really have security – while the conflict continues, is either being naive or dishonest. Not that everything will change overnight, but ending the conflict is a vital prerequisite, and we can do it, think about it and read on.

Simply put, no. Oslo provided a framework for a peace process beginning in 1993 which was due to end in 1999, not a peace agreement. The Oslo process was gradual, interim steps without agreeing where it all would end. This was also the approach of the Gaza Disengagement Plan – a continuation of the Oslo step-by-step approach. During the Oslo process neither side really respected and implemented their commitments – but even then there were significant achievements – mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, the establishment of a Palestinian Authority, Israelis and Palestinians began to accept the notion of mutual compromise, an end to occupation and a 2 State Solution.

The Geneva Initiative tries to learn from the two main lessons of the Oslo process:


a. We need to know where the process is ultimately going – not to start without knowing where it ends. What we give and what we get – a final end of all claims, all conflict, clear borders, solutions for refugees and Jerusalem. It is easier for both publics to accept if we are clear that this is the final deal. A lack of an endgame agreement is also one of the reasons for the failure of the unilateral Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005.


b. To have stronger guarantees, monitoring and compliance mechanisms within the Agreement to ensure implementation. The Geneva Initiative includes stationing a multinational force in the Palestinian territories to oversee the specific security arrangements – this is one of many detailed arrangements specified in the Geneva Accord to avoid repeating the shortcomings in Oslo.


Finally, we did not try everything. The only real attempt to negotiate a comprehensive end to the conflict was from the end of 1999 to January 2001 – which did not succeed for many reasons. But just because this attempt failed it does not condemn us to living forever with war and conflict. With anything important in life, if you do not succeed once, you don’t give up, you try again. The Geneva Initiative proves that it is worth trying again, that it is possible.

The Geneva Initative is a serious document – a detailed text written in the legal style of a Peace Treaty with very precise maps, that proposes agreed solutions to all issues of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. The Geneva Initative is based on the discussions that took place in official negotiations, and many of the Geneva Initative authors were in fact formerly official negotiators, military generals, ministers and technical experts who worked in negotiations – on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides. Actually, very little is really new – most is developing ideas that were in the Taba negotiations of January 2001, the plan presented by President Clinton in December 2000, the vision of President Bush from June 2002 and the Roadmap. The difference is that the solutions are more concrete, detailed and practical, that they are agreed between respected Israelis and Palestinians, and that we are making them public to everyone – to judge for yourself.

First, nobody signed a binding Peace Treaty committing anyone else to anything, we signed a letter committing ourselves to promoting a model peace agreement which we deposited with the Swiss Foreign Minister. We believe that it is incumbent on concerned citizens in any democracy to encourage free and open debate within civil society. Democracy is not something we do at a ballot box every few years. It was our democratic duty to suggest an alternative to the death, destruction and violence in which our respective peoples have been living. This is what we did – we presented an idea, suggested a plan, inspired a debate. And this is what we will continue doing. We could also not be more transparent. The texts and maps are freely available for everyone to read and see, and we sent them to every home. If and when the legitimately elected official parties reach a negotiated endgame agreement we will be the first to applaud.

Leaders do not always automatically do what is best for their people, they are often cautious, and to be less harsh, such an approach is difficult and does require changing some of the (meaningless) slogans that we were all told or sold for many years.

It is sometimes said that leaders do the right thing after exhausting all other alternatives, but in promoting the Geneva Initiative, we are trying to mobilize public pressure so that Israelis and Palestinians will call on their leaders to be courageous, negotiate and end this – for the sake of all our futures. Both the military and the unilateral alternatives have been tried and have failed. It is time to now try the Geneva Initiative alternative of bilateral negotiations for a final-status, endgame solution.

Actually, there has been peace between Israel and the most populous Arab country, Egypt for 30 years, and with Jordan for 15 years. There has been no conflict between Israel and these Arab states in all this time. So it is possible.

No one today suggests going back to a situation of war between Israel and Egypt or Jordan; these peace agreements have made all sides much stronger. The Geneva Initiative is in many ways modeled on the peace treaties Israel signed with Egypt and Jordan. Of course, there are many Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians and others who do not accept Israel and vice-versa. But the intelligent response is not to fall into the 'trap' of holy wars, or to tell ourselves that “they are all the same”. Of course we have to oppose terror and occupation, but we are more effective and stronger if we work together – Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Jews, all people who are against these phenomena.

No one is asking for a "love affair" between the two peoples, but it is possible to end the conflict and the killing, and to have peace. An agreement like the Geneva Initiative would pave the way to peace between Israel and the Arab world, and this was suggested by the Saudis and accepted by the Arab League.

If we begin to believe that peace is not possible then we give victory to the terrorists and extremists. What is really naive is to believe that Israelis and Palestinians can have long-term security, make social and economic progress and realize a better future without peace. What’s more, a realistic peace respecting Palestinian and Israeli interests is possible. The Geneva Initiative shows the way – in great detail – to solve all outstanding problems.

We need to move beyond the caricatures and cliches, most Israelis and Palestinians are not so different - they just want to get through life – make a living, send their kids to school fed and feeling safe, watch TV, maybe have some fun occasionally.

Once we put aside “stereotypes” and think “people” we get a different picture. People want hope for a brighter future - peace is hope, the Geneva Initiative is hope – whether you are Israeli or Palestinian.

Many world leaders have supported, encouraged and been eager to meet with and hear directly from the Geneva Initiative architects. Our primary target audiences are of course the Israeli and Palestinian publics. But to reach and to implement an Israeli–Palestinian peace we will need the assistance of the world and it does matter what leaders and civil society are thinking, saying and doing on this issue.

International policy helps shape the public debates in Israel and Palestine, and the context in which the respective leaderships act. It is not in Israeli or Palestinian interests for the world to give up on resolving our conflict – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, so we need positive, constructive involvement of the international community. The Geneva Initiative sent a message to the world’s leaders: we can end, not just manage this conflict – there are solutions and it is worth your time and effort. That’s why we have been welcomed by world leaders, parliamentarians, civil society groups, universities and Diaspora Jewish and Arab communities – from the Moroccan King, to Former PM Blair (who wa in his official capacity at the time of the Geneva Initiative's launching), HM King Abdullah of Jordan, Former UN Secretary-General Annan and Former Secretary of State Powell (who were both officials at the time of the launching of the Geneva Initiative), to the World Economic Forum and World Social Forum. Over the years the Geneva Initiative has also been awarded three prizes.

Geneva Initiative Israeli-Palestinian delegations continue to be hosted worldwide and our representatives voice the Geneva Initiative message over distinguished platforms internationally.
Click here for more on our international activity.

The Geneva Initiative has registered not-for-profit associations / NGOs in both Israel and Palestine, where small teams of professionals are engaged in an ongoing public education campaign. Both are supported by voluntary Steering Committees of well-known Israeli and Palestinian personalities – politicians, retired military generals, Mayors, writers, cultural figures, academics and activists - all committed to promoting the Geneva Initiative idea. The two NGOs, in Israel and Palestine, conduct almost daily activities – campaigns, events, seminars - taking this message out to the respective publics and international community, often together. One thing we can promise – if we all do nothing then when things do not get better, we will only have ourselves to blame. So get involved and join in!

First, thanks for visiting our website and please encourage others to do so. If you feel confident making the case then read these FAQ’s and perhaps the text of the Accord and try to convince others and raise the issue at relevant meetings or gatherings. Why not lobby your local or national politicians to take a stand on the issue along Geneva Initiative lines – or be active in groups that take an interest in Middle East affairs. You could organize an event on the Geneva Initiative at your community centre, workplace, college, local party, union association, or other body. You can contact us, or sign up for our newsletters. We also appreciate any donations that help us spread the message and continue our work. The Geneva Initiative has 501c.3 status in the United States and donations are tax deductable. In fact, we have allocated a whole section on our website for these different options which can be found under the "get involved" button on the top menu.  
Public opinion does count, and what your political leaders do and say on this issue does matter. So please, be active.