You Will Miss the Geneva Initiative

You Will Miss the Geneva Initiative

By Gadi Baltiansky, Maariv

13.1.2011
via Maariv (translated by Geneva Initiative staff, click here for Hebrew original)

According to the polls, most Israelis and Palestinians will vote in favor of such a solution. Those now looking for any crack to point out what's wrong with it might regret it later on

In his scholarly article on the shortcomings of the Geneva Initiative ( "Dangers of the Geneva Initiative", 12.1.11 ), Adam Raz argues that that the model does not constitute the basis for a responsible peace, only for a cease fire, and outlines what appear to him to be the shortcomings of the model proposed by a group of senior Israelis and Palestinians. Indeed, this is only a model, demonstrating that it is possible to reach an agreement that meets the national interests of both sides, and as such is certainly the basis upon which changes and improvements can be made.

But the "shortcomings" described in the article actually note a few major advantages of the Geneva Initiative--security, refugees, mutual recognition, and the end of conflict. The author complains that the "safety alert mechanisms are cumbersome" in the security annex to the Geneva Accords. In practice, it is this detailed list of arrangements that matches the requirements agreed on by senior Israeli military and defense experts.

The refugee issue is resolved in the Geneva Initiative model in a way that focuses on the practical future and not the past narratives, which will always remain in dispute. Under the Geneva solution, Palestinians will see an implementation of all international resolutions, while Israel's Jewish majority and national character will not be endangered. The term “right of return” is not mentioned at all, so that the Palestinians will not be required to sign a waiver of the right (like the Jews did not sign a waiver of the right to live in Hebron, even if they will not actually live there), while Israel will not accept the return of refugees within its borders except for a symbolic number according to sovereign decision.

Before it's too late

Under the Geneva Initiative model, Israelis and Palestinians agree to recognize the right of the Jewish and Palestinian people to statehood and mutual recognition of those states as the national homelands of their respective peoples, without compromising the equal rights of all citizens. I hope that such sentences appear in the real agreement, marking the recognition of both peoples’ right to a state in areas of the greater divided land, and indicating that they reside in their country not by force but by virtue of that right.

Hamas opposes the Geneva Initiative, mainly due to one central section contained in the model--the section that ensures that end of conflict and all future claims against the other party. Anyone who advocates withdrawal for a cease-fire only, as does Hamas, certainly will not agree with the concept embodied in the Geneva Initiative.

The Zionist, democratic camp should not settle any longer for the slogan of two stats.
The binational camp can continue to talk about a Palestinian self-rule area and in the meantime concretize on the ground the one state for two people solution.

The real content of the idea of two states is a border based on ‘67 lines with the division of East Jerusalem by a demographic principle. The Geneva Initiative model, and its appendices, present a detailed plan for how to turn the two states idea from theory to reality.

The current Palestinian leadership supports this kind of solution. According to all polls, most Israelis and most Palestinians would vote for such a solution if it's presented to them as a package deal. These data are not eternal. Those who do not want to sign an agreement now with Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad will someday miss them. Anyone looking for any crack to find the negative in the Geneva Initiative will someday miss it. Therefore, in addition to constantly warning ourselves about dangers, we should make sure we do everything to not miss opportunities--before it's too late.