Swiss Foreign Minister in Israel suggests renewed and upgrade of the Geneva Initiative

By Greer Fay Cashman, Jpost
Swiss Foreign Minister on official visit to Israel, meets with President Shimon Peres and suggested that the Geneva Initiative for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be reviewed and upgraded.
President Shimon Peres and  Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter.
Photo Credit: Mark Nelman/GPO
In welcoming Burkhalter, Peres spoke of the excellent cooperation which the countries have in various spheres, most notably scientific research, security, and counter- terrorism.
In speaking of his hopes of reviving the long suspended peace process, Peres said that it should not be postponed any longer, especially because it is not yet clear where recent changes across the Middle East are leading.
In reiterating his hope for the renewal of the peace process, Peres said that it would serve to restabilize the situation in the Middle East.
Acknowledging that Switzerland has invested a lot of effort in peace, Peres said that the problems of the Middle East are more existential than ideological.
He was pleased that the foreign minister had come to Israel at a time when relations between the two countries were reaching new heights.
Burkhalter, who arrived last week, and met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday, said “We would like to open a new chapter of constructive, pragmatic and concrete friendship,” Burkhalter said.
Switzerland’s three major interests are security, prosperity and independence, he said.
The Swiss foreign minister shared the Israeli president’s conviction that there is still a window of opportunity for the peace process.
“There is a state of emergency and we have to relaunch the peace process,” Burkhalter said as he offered Switzerland’s help and support in any way possible.
Seizing on Israel’s frequent insistence on no pre-conditions for the resumption of the peace process, the foreign minister suggested that even so, a framework for what happens afterwards must be established, and that this was an area in which Switzerland was ready to contribute.
He also suggested that the Geneva Initiative for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be reviewed and upgraded.
A conference on the initiative dedicated to the memory of former chief of staff the late Amnon Lipkin-Shahak who was one of the signatories to the Geneva Initiative, will be held today in Tel Aviv.
Speakers will include Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri who is a former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Geneva Initiative chairman Yossi Beilin who is a former justice minister, Brig.-Gen.(res.) Israela Oron and former agriculture minister Haim Oron.
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