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GI Director-General Gadi Baltiansky in interview on Channel 1

Interview on the Mehayom Lemachar midnight news magazine hosted by David Vitztum, 02.08.07  

David Vitztum: Do you think that a new window of opportunity has opened to us in our relationship with the Palestinians? Precisely now, when the government is not well-liked, Abbas is hardly ruling half his kingdom, and George Bush has become a lame duck long ago, maybe, as a paradox, these weak people can get something moving. We now welcome the director general of the initiative that persists in remaining alive even after being eulogized from all directions—the Geneva Initiative. Good evening, Gadi Baltiansky. So, what does the Geneva Initiative do today?
Gadi Baltiansky: We work year-round on educational-informative public-political activities to promote the initiative's ideas. In Israel and in the Palestinian Authority there is a minority that objects to the idea of negotiations. We continue to advance this, and the document itself—the model for an agreement—is all the more relevant now that the option of negotiations in being discussed.
David Vitztum: One of the interesting points to arise from perhaps-unofficial statements by ministers was that no matter where we're headed, what's important is that we establish a wall between us and them and forget about them.
Gadi Baltiansky: And we've tried those unilateral methods, "we'll build a wall," but I think both public opinion polls and among the cabinet there is currently a solid majority behind the notion that with no dialogue, with no agreement, we will not achieve security, not peace, not a Jewish state, no future—not anything.
David Vitztum: The problem is that in a dialogue, you must also make concessions, and there may well be support for dialogue but no support at all for making any concessions.
Gadi Baltiansky: I think otherwise. I think the Israeli leadership and the Palestinian Leadership, as well as the American leadership, understand the necessary outline for an agreement and each side will make concessions. There is no other definition for the term "compromise" apart from cons\cessions from all parties, without harming any of the parties' real interests.
David Vitztum: Maybe it would be more constructive for us not to enter negotiations from a position of strength, but from a position of weakness.
Gadi Baltiansky: I'm a firm believer in weak players. Because, when leaders are strong, why should they concede? They are at the top of their fame, enjoying a solid public stance—why should they enter a risky process?
David Vitztum: But the question is what would happen to the right? What would happen to the opposition?
Gadi Baltiansky: I think there can’t be negotiations and there can’t be an agreement without there being people who object it on both sides. I can estimate, according to the polls, that up to a third of people on both sides will indeed object, there is no doubt of this. But the majority on both sides truly wants an agreement—the problem is the majority thinks it has no partner on the other side. The Palestinians think Olmert can pass an agreement because he has no majority, because he's week, because he continues to build a fence and settlements and he doesn’t dismantle outposts, etc. And we thing Abbas is weak and doesn’t exercise his control over Gaza and Hamas rules in Gaza. The dialogue itself and achieving progress in the process will strengthen both sides, increase their popularity, and also give them the ability to implement the agreement, and not only achieve it. We must no what the goal is, and therefore, the declaration of principles being discussed, or a document like the Geneva Accord, and the acknowledgment of what a final agreement will eventually look like—all these are highly integral to the success of the process.