Geneva Initiative Annexes
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Geneva Initiative briefing for foreign diplomats

 

On the 15th of September the Geneva Initiative held a briefing for more than thirty Israel based foreign diplomats.

 

The briefing was attended by eight ambassadors (Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Lithuania, Slovenia, India and Chile) and another twenty four diplomats representing the E.U., U.N., Office of the Quartet, the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Egypt, Japan, and several Eastern European countries. The participants were briefed by the Israeli and Palestinian Directors General of the Geneva Initiative, Gadi Baltiansky and Nidal Foqaha.
 
Geneva Initiative Director-General Gadi Baltiansky speaking at the briefing
 
The following is a summary of the briefing:
 
Nidal Foqaha:
The current circumstances will not bring about a permanent ceasefire. The situation in Gaza is very difficult with 160,000 Gazans, a huge proportion of the workforce, currently unemployed. 43% of Gazans are thinking of immigrating to Europe and we just saw with the tragic sinking of a boat full of Gazan refugees.
There is a real question as to whether Hamas will allow the Palestinian Authority to take control in Gaza. We will know in the coming weeks whether the national reconciliation government can indeed work.
The demand to disarm Hamas, which is also coming from Europe, is at this stage unrealistic and unhelpful. A comprehensive package is needed to deal with the issue of Hamas.
We need a political initiative, supported by the international community which will deal with Gaza and the West Bank as one package. The initiative, which would include international guarantees, ensure the reconstruction of Gaza as well as a return to negotiations.
 
Gadi Baltiansky:
The Israeli public now understands that without diplomatic action by Israel, there will be another war, the question is only whether in the coming weeks or months. Members of the Israeli center and many in the center-right feel that it is not enough for Israel to make military preparations for the next round, Israel must also take the diplomatic initiative.
We have regular meetings with senior figures and activists in the Likud. Post Gaza, there is a lot of confusion: Is Abu Mazen good or bad? This confusion is an opportunity, because people are seeking answers. Most Israelis support the two state solution, but don't believe it will happen.
 
At the moment, an international coalition of Western countries and moderate regimes is forming to fight ISIS. This is Israel's dream – a coalition of moderate countries forming to fight terror. Yet two countries have left out of the coalition: Israel and Iran are the ones who have been isolated. Unfortunately, most Israelis do not seem to have noticed that Israel has been left out of this coalition. There is an opening for European public diplomacy to emphasize to the Israeli leadership and public that due to the lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track, Israel is paying a price and is prevented from joining the international coalition against ISIS.
 
Until recently Israelis completely ignored Gaza. Today they understand that it needs attention, with even the army calling for a change in policy. However, one cannot deal with Gaza in isolation. A lasting solution to the problem in Gaza can only come from a comprehensive solution. Without disarming Hamas there won't be a comprehensive agreement, and without comprehensive agreement there can be no disarming of Hamas. Hopefully the Gaza crisis will be a trigger for Israelis to seek a comprehensive solution to the conflict.