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Geneva Initiative Conference: Following Gaza

Geneva Initiative Conference: Following Gaza

 

On September 21st, the Geneva Initiative held a public conference in Tel Aviv, the first since the end of the fighting in Gaza. The conference, which was attended by approximately 200 audience members, focused on how to move the peace process forward following the fighting in Gaza – opportunities and challenges.
Speaking at the conference were Haim Oron, former Israeli MK and minister, and a senior Geneva Initiative member, Sigal Moran- head of the Bnei-Shimon Regional Council in southern Israel, Nadav Eyal, the Channel 10 foreign news editor and Hisham Abdel-Razek, a resident of Gaza and the former Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs. This was the first time that a senior leader from Gaza had spoken in Israel since the end of the fighting. The participants spoke about the recent round of fighting, and highlighted the urgency of renewing the peace process on order to prevent further rounds of fighting. Geneva Initiative Director General Gadi Baltiansky presented the results of a new poll commissioned by the Initiative, which showed that most Israeli citizens, including most Likud voters, want Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch diplomatic drive for Palestinian state.

Click here to see the results of the poll.

The conference was supported by the European Union Partnership for Peace.

Below you can find a summary of the proceedings:
 
Hisham Abdel-Razek: The reality that I came here from is a very difficult one, and it was especially difficult during the war. My generation and even those older than us have never seen such devastation. Without ending the occupation, there will be no solution… We have been fighting for 100 years now. I entered the cycle of fighting when I was 17 years old. I sat in an Israeli prison for 21 years. I have been fighting for peace since before the Oslo Accords. And I am certain that there is no way except for a political solution. Without one, we will stay in this trouble. It is not true to say that there is no partner. The Israelis and Palestinians sat down. If there is a leadership on both sides that wants a solution- the solution exists…a process that would lead to a two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders with adjustments. There is a possibility for peace.
 
 
Haim Oron: "Managing the conflict" is what we have seen in the last two months…for many years, since the Geneva Initiative and Clinton, the agreement is on the table and there is no other. Stop talking about two states for two peoples", and start talking about "two states, 1967 borders, two capitals in Jerusalem, a de-militarized Palestine and the right to return to the Palestinian state". We must create a partner for this dialogue, and I'm talking about an Israeli partner… The fundamental question is- are we able, as a society, to rally up a political force that will come and say: end the occupation, leave the territories, build an independent Palestinian state. This is an existential Zionist question. "
 
Hisham Abdel-Razek speaking at the conference
 
Sigal Moran: There was a feeling that this war was a "no other choice" war, and so the demand by many was to "Hit 'em hard". This is a gut reaction; it came from a fear that our very existence was being threatened. And so I would always ask myself- what happens after we "hit 'em"?... The way that this war ended, with everybody being winners and loser, has proven to us that violence will not solve this conflict…I dream about the day that I won't have to prepare my council for the next round of fighting. I long for the day that I won't have to get donations from the world to build bomb-safe rooms.
 
Nadav Eyal: The only hope for long lasting quiet, as Israel perceives it - is for an agreement to be made with Hamas, an agreement which Hamas will accept because it will dramatically improve its standing in Gaza. Israel would get the quiet that it has enjoyed for a certain period of time. This would be the "optimal" result of the operation. So what is missing? What's missing is a fundamental political ability of the Prime Minister. The interest of the international community remains to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The international community rightly supports civil society in order to ensure that there is support for such an agreement. However, given the failures of the past, the U.S. has other priorities at the moment and Europe is also not making a highly active effort to solve the conflict.