Geneva Initiative, the Likud version

Geneva Initiative, the Likud version

By Yuval Karni and Tzvika Barot  
25.06.2012
via Yediot Ahronot (article translated from Hebrew by GI staff) 
 
Israel's most widely read national news publishes an article on a Geneva Initiative seminar with senior Likud members. "It's important that the Likud use their position of power in order to lead the movement for peace" 
 
Likud senior activists, members of Meretz and senior Palestinians enter a room. No, this isn’t the beginning of a joke but an event that took place last weekend in Kfar Maccabiah, when the Geneva Initiative managed to persuade 25 senior Likud activists to participate in a joint seminar with people from the left and a former Palestinian Minister. The goal: To try and show the people from the Likud headquarters that the Geneva Initiative, which was previously considered an extreme symbol on the left of the political spectrum in Israel, has become almost mainstream and closer to the positions that Likud seniors present in public.  
 
From the Likud side were central party members, deputy mayors and heads of central party branches who met with the former Chairman of Meretz, Yossi Beilin, one of the heads of Geneva, and with a former Palestinian minister Sufyan Abu-Zaida. 
 
The results, according to the participants, were surprising:  Even though not all the Likudniks returned home convinced – some of them even tried to convince the Palestinian to leave the neighborhood – but many of them agreed that there is someone to talk to on the other side.  
 
“The Prime Minister, the leader of the party, already received the basic ideas of the Geneva Initiative, which is two states for two peoples “ said Shlomo Madmon, the former Chairman of the Likud branch in Kfar Saba and central committee member. “Emotionally speaking there is an automatic negativity to Geneva and Meretz, but the truth is that we are not at all far apart from one another. If this accord would not be called the Geneva Initiative by Yossi Beilin, the Likud might have adopted quite a lot of the principles from the accord.” 
 
 “I was among the protesters against Shimon Peres in Sebastia, but slowly I sobered up and realized that the ideology would never win out reality.  You cannot live in a constant state of war forever, and you have to find the best solution possible. So if there are people on the other side that are ready to talk, we must try. It’s not fair to pass on to future generations the conflict, without trying to do all that we can first to solve it.” 
 
Also the depty Mayor of the town of Afula, Yossi Goshen, said that the Netanyahu of today is not far from the positions Yossi Beilin presented a decade ago. “It’s clear that between them there are still significant differences, but there is still room for negotiation. When you speak you don’t shoot, which is why it’s important that the Likud use their position of power in order to lead the movement for peace. Begin already made the precedent” 
 
In the Geneva Initiative they were pleased with the results, and are preparing similar meeting in the future: the Director-General of the Geneva Initiative, Gadi Baltiansky, stated “In many of the meetings we hold, it turns out that many Likudniks prefer the Geneva Initiative and the Zionism over Feiglin and the bi-national state.”