Geneva Initiative Annexes
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Geneva Initiative Conference

On May 3, 2009 the Geneva Initaitive held a conference entitled: "Obama, Netanyahu and the Peace Camp". The conference dealt with the role of the Israeli peace camp both in Israel and internationally in light of political developments.

Date: 3.05.2009


On May 3, 2009 the Geneva Initaitive held a conference entitled: "Obama, Netanyahu and the Peace Camp". The conference dealt with the role of the Israeli peace camp both in Israel and internationally in light of political developments.
More than 200 people attended the conference that was comprised of two panels focusing on the parliamentarian and non-parliamentarian fields. Speakers included: MKs Meir Sheetrit (Kadima); Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) and Dov Khenin (Hadash); Former Minister Ami Ayalon (Labor), Dr. Ron Pundak and Adv. Talia Sasson.
Following is a brief summary of ideas expressed by each of the speakers:
Dr. Ron Pundak, General Manager of the Peres Center for Peace
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will lead to the unification of the Arab States around Israel and against Iran. Suggests that those who criticize the Arab Peace Initiative as one that will flood Israel with millions of refugees, read the initiative carefully and see that it suggests an agreed upon solution to the issue which Israel will have a right to veto. Pundak conceptualizes two roles for the Israeli peace camp: to promote an endgame agreement based on the two-state solution and to recruit the international community to assist us with creating and implementing such an agreement.
Adv. Talia Sasson, Author of the report on Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank
The only feasible solution on the table is the two-state solution and this is what the peace camp must work to promote. Israel’s continued settlement expansion is a threat and danger to Israel as it creates a reality in which it becomes more and more difficult to reach and implement the two-state solution and may result in the withdrawal of the Arab League Initiative. The answer to our critics who say that there is no partner for peace is that there is still the possibility to evacuate the settlements from the West Bank while leaving the army deployed until the PA is strong enough to insure law and order. Dialogue with Syria and with the Palestinians is important and should be conducted under the auspices of the U.S. and under the umbrella of the Arab League.
Former Minister Ami Ayalon
We, Israelis and Palestinians are the only ones who will save us from ourselves – we cannot and should not wait for the international community and need to solve the conflict ourselves. Those of us who were elected need to act out their promises to those who voted them in and those of us who were not elected need to do what we can from outside the Knesset. We need to create new terminology moving on from terms of guilt to terms of responsibility, such terminology phrases what questions are asked and these ultimately phrase the answers we receive and create. Both PMs Barak and Olmert have set the assumption that there is no partner for peace - that we have offered everything to the Palestinians and were turned down. The majority of the Israeli public is captivated in that concept. We need to explain to the public what really happened in past negotiations. We need to sober up from dreams of a new Middle East and other utopia images, in this context it is extremely important that the Israeli peace camp acknowledges that a part of the Israeli society will be devastated by the price which Israel will need to pay in any agreement. We have a moral obligation towards the settlers because the state of Israel sent them to settle in the territories - the fact that the Zionist vision has changed does not make the settlers our enemies. Finally, a referendum will need to be introduced in order to bring any agreement reached to the public.
Former Minister MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima)
Both peoples want peace the problem is with the leaderships. The only way to reach peace is through endorsing the Arab League Initiative, the facilitation of the international community will not help us as this is an Israeli-Arab problem which needs to be solved locally and regionally. We need to approach the Arab world with great respect, through the use of their terminology and through an understanding of their culture. The PM should invite the Saudi King here and inform the Saudis that Israel is ready to endorse the Arab League Initiative. There is a partner and "every day that passes increases the price of peace. Prime ministers have always been historically blind; the path to peace passes through the Arab initiative."
MK Ophir Pines Paz (Labor)
Bilateral negotiations will not hold water; we need a regional and international umbrella for any negotiations with the Palestinians. Any process boils down to the leaders conducting it: Oslo had powerful leaders in the form of Rabin and Arafat (before Arafat embarked on the path to terror); Egypt had Begin and Sadat; and Jordan had Rabin and King Hussein. At Annapolis all three leaders were weak and this is the reason the process did not bear fruit. President Obama is an unprecedented political phenomenon who can bring to the table not only Israelis and Palestinians but also the international community and the moderate Arab world which is very crucial for reaching an agreement. Obama has the background, the knowledge, the personality, the support and the charisma to bring about real desired change.
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash)
Reaching an agreement with the Palestinians and with the Arab world is an existential challenge. There is no alternative for the two-state solution. Jerusalem will undoubtedly have to be the capital of both states and nations. The Geneva Accord has made a significant contribution to the core issue of refugees by demonstrating the problem is solvable.