What do Likudniks and the Geneva Initiative have in Common?

By Shimon Cohen, Israel Channel 7
31.10.2011
via Israel Channel 7 (translated from Hebrew by Geneva Initiative staff, click here for Hebrew original)
 
The Geneva Initiative recently held a seminar for leading Likud activists to discuss to core issues of the conflict, and how they can be resolved using the solutions in the Geneva Accord. We found that an overwhelming majority of participants agreed with the Geneva solutions, including Shimon Hazan, Likud candidate for Mayor of Holon. Here is what he has to say.
 
EXCERPT
 
Last Shabbat, a conference took place at Kfar Hamacabia on behalf of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin's organization, in which forty leading Likud members, branch heads and deputy mayors took part. Many of them, it turned out, found themselves agreeing with many of the positions presented by the Geneva Initiative staff. We spoke with Attorney Shimon Hazan, LIkud's candidate for mayor of the city of Holon, trying to understand what Likudniks were doing at this conference and how it is that differences in opinion over policy became so small between the movement of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Yossi Beilin.
 
At first, Hazan explains that the goal presented before conference attendees is the culmination of a 100 year old conflict, "a blessed idea", as he says, "which brings onto the table all issues such as water, the right of return, etc. This is crucial for anyone interested in negotiations".
 
Beyond putting all the issues on the table, do you also identify with the solutions that the Geneva Initiative presents?
 
"I identify with a lot of the solutions that both sides have sat and debated over, like the water, and the fact that the right of return involves compensation".
 
Hazan emphasizes that the Likud overflows with a variety of opinions which allow positions like his, which are similar to the Geneva Initiative, to live side by side with totally different positions. He believes that the peace process is important in order to make it clear to the Palestinians that they must act through verbal persuasion, and not through bombs, guns and belligerence.
 
Later, Hazan shares that these opinions received agreement from a many of the conference participants. "A definite majority accepted these principles and kept an open mind about hearing the other side. Only three participants truly disagreed".
 
So now explain to me what happened to Likud that its members suddenly identify with Meretz people from the Geneva Initiative. Begin and Shamir spoke differently… what happened to you?
 
I want to remind you that Begin became more moderate over time. He initially spoke about Sinai as a part of the Land of Israel, and ultimately returned it all. Shamir also moved to the moderate end and agreed to go to the Madrid Conference. One more thing: it was not long ago that the Likud spoke about the promises of our fathers and history, while today we speak not about the Land of Israel, but rather about security arrangements…"
 
Meaning that the Likud forgot the meaning of the term birthright, and now speaks about something between [MK] Mickey Eitan and Yossi Beilin.
 
"We have not forgotten our historical rights, but we are pragmatic".