Returning to Geneva

By Yair Inov, Ha'aretz


Shlomo Avineri continues to throw a spanner in the works of Israeli-Palestinian peace. (Oslo: The dream and its collapse, Haaretz Hebrew 11.7). In his argument he presents himself as a loyal citizen who appears to be a member of the Zionist left, however but his worldview is firmly rooted to the belligerent branch of the Jewish public: the self righteous.
The Zionist movement, which was born as a result of the grave difficulties facing the Jewish people, was successful in creating a state which serves as a refuge for any Jew who is in need of it. However, while implementing its vision, the Zionist movement encountered the resistance of the local Arab residents. The Zionists, who were filled with the conviction of the justice of their cause, and therefore believed it was worth any price to achieve their goals, were faced with firm opposition to their approach. A dispute then took place within the Zionist camp as to whether the justice of the Zionist cause was absolute, or whether the conflict should be viewed as a competition between two just causes. It was the recognition that there is no absolute justice that caused the Zionist leadership to act in a conciliatory fashion and with an openness, at least in its declarations, to engage with the other side. That was the situation until June 1967.
Since the 1967 war, and the capture of all the territory of Mandatory Israel and the Golan Heights, belligerent tendencies within the Jewish camp have been amplified, and a self-righteous 'Zionist' doctrine was developed, which negated the legitimacy of the national rights of the Palestinians. Avineri is a prominent representative of this self-righteous Zionism. He is not satisfied with 78% of Mandatory Israel, even if it includes land swaps which will destroy the contiguity of the territory which will remain in Palestinian hands. He is also not satisfied with a de facto relinquishing of the right of return. He joins Netanyahu's unhelpful demand of the Palestinians that they recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, or in other words, that they become Zionists themselves. It would be better if he honestly admitted that he prefers eternal war over compromise and a peaceful existence.
In my eyes, this path will only lead to the certain destruction of all the positive elements which were part of the Zionist dream. In contrast, the Geneva Initiative model agreement includes, alongside painful concessions, an agreed solution that respects the wishes of both sides. It does not negate the national narratives of either side and allows both sides to continue to develop their futures. The Geneva Initiative does not demand a public Palestinian renunciation of the right of return to Israeli territory, but does not allow for it in practice. The agreement creates special arrangements for Jerusalem while respecting the rights and sensitivities of each side. It also includes rigorous security arrangements which respect the independence and sovereignty of both sides, without hurting Israel's military advantage. And above all else – it provides a stable basis for peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinian State. Reaching a peace agreement would definitely open the door for Israel to regional cooperation and lead to the recognition of Israel by all the Arab states on the basis of the Saudi Initiative.
The author is an economist and peace activist