Geneva Initiative Annexes
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GI Israel Position Paper: Government Seeking Policy

Government Seeking Policy

Date: 30.04.2009

PM Netanyahu is currently concerned with formalizing the policy-line for his government. Although one could have expected the premier to have an obvious political stand, such a stand remains unknown even two months after the elections took place. In its absence, below are five principles which PM Netanyahu would do well to adopt and which should serve as the basis of the new government's policy:

  1. An Israeli Initiative as Opposed to the Arab League Initiative
The new Government's guidelines state that "the Government will advance the political process and act to promote peace with all our neighbors". In order to do this, Israel should propose its own "Raod-map" to end the Israeli-Palestinian and the Israeli-Syrian conflict. As opposed to the Arab League Initiative - which proposes a solution for the confrontation between Israel and the entire Arab world - and the American proposal for a two-state solution, Israel should propose its own initiative which includes the steps to be taken, the goals to be reached and a timeline for implementation of a plan which it sees fit to end the conflicts.
  1. Speak to Fatah Before the US Turns Hamas into a Partner
The new American President is leading a new diplomatic policy: before reaching the conclusion to implement harsh measures, he is willing to talk to whoever is interested in doing so. It can therefore be expected that the American Administration will not rule out talks with Hamas which, to date, has been banned. Israel ought to prove to the Americans that Fatah is the partner with which dialogue channels need to be strengthened. By doing so Israel will work to avoid a situation in which the Hamas is strengthened by becoming a formal Palestinian address for negotiations. The way to do this is to engage in serious dialogue with President Abbas regarding a final-status agreement supported both by the United States and the entire international community.
  1. Multilateralism and Not Only Bilateralism
Developments over the past weeks have once again illustrated that the Arab world is split between pragmatic and fundamentalist forces. Israel should recruit international support for the idea that negotiations should be conducted with the pragmatic forces who are interested in reaching peace, and other measures should be adopted against extremist forces who are disinterested in peace. While Israel needs to negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinians and Syria, it can spur the international community to sanction Iran. Otherwise Israel may find itself without permanent-status agreements with the Palestinians and Syria on the one hand, and without international will to act against Iran and like-minded extremist forces on the other.
  1. As Comprehensive a Ceasefire As Possible with Hamas
Israel needs to secure the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit from Hamas imprisonment and the security of Israel's southern cities which are a frequent target of Hamas fire. Even if Israel declares that it will not negotiate with Hamas for a permanent-status agreement, Israel needs to conduct indirect talks with Hamas in order to reach agreements on both issues. Israel will be wise to leverage such talks to encompass more comprehensive understandings which will include Shalit's return and a long-term ceasefire which includes the West Bank and not Gaza alone.
  1. "Yes, But" and Not "No" to International Initiatives and Proposals
The current Israeli government's bad reputation with the international community, although at times unjustified, may lead to a growing tendency towards Israel's de-legitimization internationally. Trends such as the British academic boycott, the need to conduct Israeli sports events without an audience, the boycott of products which are exported from Israel…etc, may continue and strengthen. In order to prevent a situation in which Israel's international status continues to drop, the new Israeli government needs to prove to the world that it is willing to talk to anyone who is not using terror against Israel and is willing to negotiate. The recipe for this is simple: Israel needs to say "yes" to international peace initiatives and to the Palestinian and Syrian desire to negotiate – while expressing reservations on particular issues – and not dismiss initiatives altogether.