How to get Mideast peace talks out of 'dark corner' of Israeli settlements
The Geneva Initiative, a group of prominent Israelis and Palestinians, on Tuesday presented a blueprint for comprehensive peace. Next step: public debate.
A group representing prominent Israelis and Palestinians, including former negotiators, released a "cookbook" for peace on Tuesday designed to help decisionmakers reach a two-state solution to the conflict.Skip to next paragraph
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The release of the Geneva Accord and Annexes coincided with the visit of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who met Tuesday with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He is just the kind of diplomatic "chef" that the group, known as the Geneva Initiative, is targeting.
"This book has the recipes for anyone who wants to cook up a peace agreement," said Gadi Baltiansky, director general of the Geneva Initiative – Tel Aviv. "We believe that by putting such a book on the table, it will make it more feasible for decisionmakers to reach the correct conclusions, and it will assure the Israeli and Palestinian publics that peace can and should be reached."
Expanding on a skeleton peace initiative from 2003, the new 400-page document provides detailed solutions to some of the thorniest issues, including borders, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem. While the group acknowledges that its proposals are unlikely to be accepted wholesale by the Israeli government, the existence of a peace deal acceptable to mainstream Israelis and Palestinians can point the way for negotiators – and, its authors hope – result in more comprehensive discussions.
"I hope that we will get out of the dark corner of freezing settlements and into the light of negotiations," said Yossi Beilin, a former negotiator and one of the most prominent Israelis involved in the Geneva Initiative.
Maps, timetables, and list of weapons
The most basic parameters of the expanded peace deal were agreed upon during the 2003 initiative, but this version comes with a great deal of details which are meant to be examined and debated publicly. It includes maps, timetables for Israeli troop withdrawals, and a list of weapons that the future Palestinian state would be barred from having. Jerusalem, now under Israeli control, would be divided into Yerushalayim and Al Quds, respective names for the city in Hebrew and Arabic.