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The Geneva Accord – an expression of Rabin's Legacy

From Maariv's Rabin Memorial Special Edition, 08.11.05

The Geneva Initiative was born years after Rabin's assassination, but it is based on Rabin's principles: a permanent status agreement that will be reached via bilateral negotiations and be based on mutual compromises – major settlement blocks would remain in the hands of Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian state would be created.

The Geneva Initiative was born many years after Rabin's assassination, but it seems that in essence it's based on the spirit of his political heritage: reaching a permanent status agreement that would constitute an end to the conflict and allow each of the sides to realize its central goals – maintaining settlement blocks in Israel's hands, and the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state living in good neighborly relations side by side with Israel.

"Rabin was the torch bearer of the needs to negotiate a permanent status agreement" says Geneva Initiative Director General Gadi Baltiansky. "Obviously, we cannot guess and say for sure if Rabin would have supported the Geneva Initiative, since the Initiative was born years after his murder, but those who are familiar with his political views can assume that if Rabin had been Prime Minister today, he would have reached a permanent status agreement that would not be very different from the Geneva model."

Although it's difficult, of course, to estimate what Rabin's attitude towards the Geneva Initiative would have been, it's clear that the Initiative is based on his political heritage. The fact that those carrying on Rabin's legacy– including his daughter Dalia Rabin – are signatories of the Geneva Initiative only strengthens the notion that the Initiative actually expresses his real vision.

The Geneva Initiative is a civil society, multi-partisan initiative that presents a vision of bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its resolution, via negotiations that would lead to mutual agreement for the existence of two states for the two peoples, recognizing each other and living in peace and security side by side.

The document on which the Initiative is based, which has been hammered out by Israelis and Palestinians over a period of nearly two years, presents a model of the expected lines along which an historic compromise would be reached. Its principles include Palestinian recognition of the right of the Jewish people to a state, Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital and the maintenance of the core Israeli settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria, so that the majority of Israelis currently living outside the Green Line would remain in their houses as part of official Israel in its permanent borders. The document also includes a Palestinian declaration on the end of conflict and end of claims on all issues, including the issue of the refugees.

The document relates with empathy to the real needs of both sides, fulfilling many of their essential national aspirations while at the same time also including a number of practical and necessary compromises. The document ensures that the Palestinian state be demilitarized and that no hostile army could be stationed there. In order to guarantee the implementation of the peace arrangements between the sides, local and international monitoring, verification and enforcement mechanisms would be established. The document also suggests a comprehensive and practical solution to the problem of the refugees, without ever mentioning the right of return and while securing the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

"It's hard to say what Rabin would have said about this document," summarized Baltiansky, "but it seems that the document is consistent – with the necessary modifications, of course – with Rabin's vision: aiming to reach a permanent status agreement between the sides, which would be achieved via bilateral negotiations and would include a number of compromises from each of the parties. We should remember that in the Oslo Accord that Rabin signed, it was declared that a permanent settlement would be reached by May 1999. Sadly for us, Rabin was assassinated before that time, and thus an historic opportunity has been missed. In contrast to those who cut-off the process in mid-flow following the murder, we present an alternative – to renew the negotiations process and realize its longed-for conclusion."

"Today", adds Baltiansky, "the need to reach this goal is even greater than it was in Rabin's days. If we do not hurry, we will find ourselves in a bi-national state, with a Jewish minority, with an increasingly dominant Hamas and with no future for our children. The road to reach the kind of life we deserve passes through a realistic and reasonable agreement between the sides – in the spirit of the Geneva Initiative."

Maariv's Rabin Memorial Special Edition, Aaron Miller, David Grossman, Yossi Beilin, David Kimche and MJ Rosenberg on the tragic anniversary.