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Geneva Initiative sees a New Horizon with Biden
Geneva Initiative

Email message from
jess@heskem.org.il


A New Horizon with Biden

The election of Joe Biden to the US Presidency injected new hope into our
region. The impact is already being felt on the ground and has been seen in
recent actions and public statements. The Palestinian leadership decided to
renew the security and civil coordination with Israel, and to reinstate its
emissaries in Bahrain and United Arab Emirates after recalling them
following the normalisation agreements. Israeli senior ministers called
officially and publically for the resumption of talks with the Palestinians.
These are only initial steps, but they bode well for the future and are an
indication of a more constructive discourse emerging.

We also learned this week about the individuals that will lead foreign
policy in the new Biden administration. Endorsing the new appointments, the
GI`s Israeli Director, Gadi Baltiansky, told Haaretz, `Blinken and Sullivan
are no Kushner and Greenblatt. They dont have to learn the issues, they
already know them very well,` adding that, `for the peace camp in Israel,
the biggest challenge when dealing with the Biden administration will be to
convince them of the urgency of Israeli-Palestinian peace.`

The challenges ahead loom large, but equipped with joint solutions,
reinvigorated hope and a new approach in the White House, the opportunities
and prospects are even greater. That is why the responsibility on our
shoulders is larger than before. We hope that with your cooperation we can
rise to the challenge. See below for a window into what weve been working
on over the last few weeks.


Jess Manville
Director of Foreign Relations, Geneva Initiative
jess@heskem.org.il
www.geneva-accord.org

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Joint Briefing for Diplomats: The New Biden Era

On November 19th, we held a joint briefing for over 35 diplomats (including
representatives from the US, EU, UK, Russia, France, Egypt, Jordan, China,
Japan, Colombia and many more countries) to discuss the prospects for peace
and the

two-state solution under the incoming US administration and lessons learned
from the past few years. Senior Journalist for Haaretz, Amir Tibon and a
highly-respected Palestinian analyst, Mohammed Daraghmeh presented their
analysis on the

renewal of coordination between Israel and the PA, the possibilities for
leveraging regional developments, the public mood in both societies`,
domestic political calculations and the future role of the peace camp.

We will seek to continue our vital engagement with our friends in the
international community who will be our indispensable partners on the road
to peace.

************************************************

Two-State Coalition Meets with EU Special Representative for MEPP

On 27th October the Israeli members of the GIs Two-State Coalition met with
the EUSR for MEPP, Susanna Terstal in Tel Aviv, followed by a meeting with
the Palestinian members of the TSC on November 5th in Ramallah.

The question at the heart of the conversations was: how to revive a
political process between Israelis and Palestinians? We discussed the role
that civil society can play in promoting dialogue and building bridges
between the two sides, the potential that lies in regional developments and
the best ways to confront the challenges ahead (both the threat of ongoing
de facto annexation and the shifts in public opinion in both societies).

We were all in agreement that there is no better way than the two-state
solution, which serves the vital interests of all parties and must be
pursued with renewed dynamism.

*************************************************

In Conversation with J-Street President, Jeremy Ben-Ami

On 16th November, over 30 representatives of Israeli and Palestinian civil
society organisations met with J Street President and Founder Jeremy Ben-Ami
for a post-election breakdown and discussion. He provided a detailed
overview of the

expected policy positions of President-elect Joe Biden, and the steps hes
likely to take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Driven by the goal of
preserving and protecting the two-state solution, it is estimated that Biden
will seek

to reverse many of Trumps decisions including restoring ties with the
Palestinian Authority as well as expressing firmer opposition to the
creeping de facto annexation.

Aiming to make progress, Ben-Ami told us that the Biden administration will
be seeking creative ways for engagement in order to produce better
circumstances for the resumption of meaningful negotiations. In the weeks
and months ahead,

the TSC will redouble its efforts to generate bilateral ideas that can
contribute to preparing the groundwork for tangible change.

****************************************

Israeli Journalists meet with Ashraf al-Ajrami

On November 10th, a group of young journalists met with Ashraf al-Ajrami,
former Palestinian minister for prisoners and GI leader. In his remarks,
Ashraf referred to the current (and growing) challenges faced by Palestinian
society amid the corona pandemic, the significance of security and civilian
coordination with Israel, the agreements between Israel and the Gulf states,
and the perception of the US election results.

This meeting is part of a broader program that aims to create channels of
dialogue between Israeli journalists and Palestinians current and former
officials. The Palestinian narrative is often excluded from Israeli
reporting, and engagements like these, help to enrich media discourse around
peace and the conflict.

************************************************

Ashraf al-Ajrami answers questions from Israeli journalists about political
developments

Joint Panel Event on Two-State Solution for International Audience
On 9th November, leading Palestinian and Israeli GI members were invited by
a Harvard alumnae organisation to present their analysis on political
developments to an international audience.

The panel comprised of
Brig. Gen. Israela Oron;
Policy Advisor at the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department, Fatina
Jaouni Hodali;
Nidal Foqaha, Palestinian Director of the Geneva Initiative
and
Professor Yuval Benziman.

The discussion delved into the opportunities to promote the two-state
solution under Biden, the regional dynamics, the leading role that women can
play in negotiations and the importance of reconciliation between both
societies.

On this topic, Israela Oron said: it is much more difficult to talk about
emotions than to talk about square miles on the border...and we must learn
to hear the narrative of the other side.

The event was held in partnership with Harvard University alumni
organisation - W3D Women in Defense, Diplomacy and Development.

************************************************

Talking about Reconciliation: Young Leadership Program


On 29th October, we began a new reconciliation programme for Israeli and
Palestinian influencers. Twenty young leaders convened for the first in a
series of online meetings focusing on dealing with the past, understanding
the day-to-day

lives of one another and the experiences of the conflict on the other side,
and thinking about concrete steps that can be taken to promote
reconciliation in their circles of influence. On 5th November, the second
meeting included presentations from two reconciliation experts from our
Dealing with the Past Team: Brig Gen. (Ret) Israela Oron and Saman Khoury.
Both delved into the pillars of the reconciliation model and the difficult
process of developing the paper.

The third meeting on 16th November focused on narrative-sharing, terminology
and emotive dates in the conflict.

************************************************


New GI Opinion Poll:
49% of Israelis support negotiations with Palestinians under Biden

Israelis want the US to advance negotiations (49% to 36%), they support a
reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas (39% to 30%) and are in
favour of a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia that is conditioned
upon a settlement freeze (40% to 36%).

They overwhelmingly prefer a two-state solution (48% in favor, compared to
11% supporting a one-state solution with equal rights for all and another
11% supporting a one-state solution with less rights for Palestinians), and
when asked what country they would like to see Israel reach a peace
agreement with next, there was a slim margin between the preference for
Saudi Arabia (29%) and the Palestinians (28%).

The poll was conducted by the reputable Midgam Institute as part of our Two-
State Index project in partnership with the European Union. You can read the
full results here.

************************************************

GI Expresses condolences for the loss of Saeb Erekat
As lead Palestinian negotiator for over two decades, he understood well the
gaps that exist between both societies but knew that no chasm was too
unbridgeable. He witnessed how close both sides could come to reaching an
agreement, but also how mistrust or external factors could lead to their
collapse in a split second. He acknowledged the very real challenges on the
road to peace, but his dedication and commitment to the cause never faltered
nor did his willingness to engage in dialogue with the other side. Our
thoughts and wishes are with his family.

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