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Palestinian AIPAC – An Israeli in Jericho

By: Hassan Al-Battal, Al-Ayyam Newspaper


What will happen in two-three months? Not with regard to the new freeze (that hasn’t been announced yet), but to the international Israeli-Palestinian convention that will take place in Jericho.

President Abbas told two things to the Fatah “Revolutionary Council”: that the Palestinians oppose a state within temporary borders and that there will be a conference in Jericho – to be attended by all the states, persons and parties that support the two-state solution. Even President Shimon Peres will be invited. The conference will be held at the Oasis Hotel which became well-known before the second Intifada.

First to arrive will be the senior Israeli Geneva Initiative figures among them, for instance, Yossi Sarid. All this, taking into account that the unofficial “Geneva Initiative” is a joint Israeli-Palestinian interpretation expanding on the Clinton parameters and clarifying the “Bush vision” before it was elaborated into the “two-states for two peoples” equation.

When it was first launched, Israeli PM Sharon feared the Geneva Initiative which led him to formulate a move with the aim of speedily foiling the “Genovese”. He therefore decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza and proceeded with a partial convergence from three settlements near Jenin. This precedent did not lead to a full convergence plan which would have created a besieged Palestinian State unilaterally made by Israel.

Still, there is no need to march towards a “Geneva Initiative 2” a mere six or seven years after “Geneva Initiative 1” seeing as the two-state for two people formulae is something that Peres and Barak have wholeheartedly adopted. Furthermore, PM Netanyahu called for this solution in his speech in Bar Ilan.

One can also analyze the negotiations between Olmert and Abbas and the recent proposal for a “shelf state” and see in this a significant inching towards the suggestions proposed in the Geneva Initiative – also supported by Former US President Jimmy Carter.

As part of his reference to the Jericho convention and its supporters of the two-state formula – the Palestinian President warned of a growing number of Palestinians who support a bi-national state. This, against the background that the bi-national state formula is rejected by Israelis who support a Jewish and Democratic State – an idea championed by the Kadima Party or the Sharon Party of the Convergence Party or simply the Two-States Party.

The Jericho convention, should it take place - will constitute a political and conceptual effort, or a parallel framework to direct/indirect negotiations between the official leaders in Israel and Palestine. In this respect, the Jericho convention will be a broader development of the fifth international “Bil’in conference”, attended by Israelis and foreigners alike.

The aim of the Jericho convention is to comprise an academic, non-party, political body, or a source of pressure on both sides, and in particularly on the Israeli government, i.e. something similar to a Palestinian - Israeli – International AIPAC.