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Slovakia FM meets peace activists ahead of Israel tour

By: EurActiv.com



Miroslav Lajčák, Slovakia's minister of foreign affairs, met Israeli and Palestinian leaders of the Geneva Initiative, a think-tank, ahead of a tour of the region. EurActiv Slovakia reports.
On Friday (19 February), Lajčák met the Israeli and Palestinian director-generals of the Geneva Initiative, a think-tank promoting "realistic and achievable solutions" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on existing international resolutions such as the Quartet Roadmap, the Clinton Parameters, the Bush Vision and the Arab Peace Initiative.
The meeting took place just days before Lajčák's scheduled visit to the region, during which he plans to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
In Slovakia, the think-tank's Israeli director Gadi Baltiansky and his Palestinian counterpart Nidal Foqaha spoke at a conference hosted by the Slovak Foreign Policy Association and EurActiv Slovakia.
The conference aimed to explore solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the Geneva Accord and engaging the international community, and particularly focused on the role of the EU's newer member states in implementing the agreement.
Both Baltiansky and Foqaha were interviewed by EurActiv Slovakia.
Baltiansky explained that the Geneva Initiative puts Palestinians speakers before Israeli audiences, who for the most part have never met a Palestinian.
"The reaction at the end of the event is always the same – some come up and say: 'With you Mr. Palestinian, I could make peace tomorrow morning'," the Israeli peace activist said, adding that the audiences tend to believe that they are hearing marginal views when in fact the speakers reflect the views of the majority of Palestinians.
Baltiansky, who advocates a two-state solution - an approach favoured by the EU - said the promoters of the Geneva Initiative do not speak about a Jewish state, "but about the recognition that the Jewish people have the right to statehood, and that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people".
"It is the same as the Palestinian people. They have the right to statehood, and Palestine will be their national home," he added.
"When we speak about a 'viable Palestinian state', we mean it from at least three perspectives - geographic, political and economic," Nidal Foqaha, the Palestinian director of the Geneva Initiative explained.
Economic viability means Palestinian control over their economic resources, he added.
"These resources are related to control over the land, and also over the natural resources the Palestinians are entitled to, including water, which is considered one of the most important resources for agriculture, industry and services," he said.
"Furthermore, economic cooperation between Palestine and Israel will be a dire need for the future state. Without that, the Palestinians would have very bad prospects to develop their economy, to prosper," the activist further argued.
Foqaha also explained that the Palestinians perceive the EU, embodied by the European Commission, as an honest broker in the Middle East peace process.
"Frankly speaking, without the support of the EU and individual member states of the EU, Palestinian civil society would not survive," the Palestinian activist conceded.