Dozens of senior members of the Shas party are taking part this week in an event led by the far-left Geneva Initiative group in which the group teaches its view of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Shas MK and former minister Yaakov Margi explained his party’s decision to participate. “The facts that we see with our own eyes when it comes to demography, facts on the group, and world opinion – cannot be ignored,” he said.
“While we are connected to the land of Israel and to a united Jerusalem on the emotional level, and while our claim is just, we have to find creative solutions,” he continued.
“I am very right-wing ideologically, but reality is stronger than any ideology,” he added.
Margi’s hint at “creative solutions” regarding Jerusalem may come as a surprise to Shas votes. The party has traditionally pledged not to compromise on the status of Israel’s capital.
Margi praised the Geneva Initiative, which he said “gives people knowledge and tools.”
On Tuesday, conference participants met with Hisham Abed el-Razek, the former Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, and with Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Ilan Paz, a former head of the IDF Civil Administration and one of the heads of the Geneva Initiative.
On Wednesday, participants toured the separation barrier in the Jerusalem area. The tour will focus on the borders of the PA-led Arab state that the Geneva Initiative hopes to create in Judea and Samaria, and on the status of Jerusalem, which the PA claims as its future capital city.
The Geneva Initiative exists to promote the “Geneva Accord,” an agreement between a group of Israeli citizens not serving in any official capacity, and Palestinian Authority figures with no political clout. The 2003 agreement gained support from President Shimon Peres and from several European countries, which gave it millions of dollars to help organizers spread their views.
Last month the group sponsored an event for the Yesh Atid party. MK Ruth Calderon shared her positive reaction to the tour on Facebook.