The headline makes it sound like the meeting will be between Israel and Hamas, but in fact it’s just Yossi Beilin, whom one senses has drifted left as Israel’s body politic has drifted right. He likely doesn’t have direct lines to the offices of Mr. Lieberman or Mr. Netanyahu. Nonetheless it’s another sign of the Euro-Hamas thaw.
The picture accompanying the story in the print version (which is different from the online one) makes it look as though Mr.Haniyeh’s hair has gone all the way grey, so maybe his job is becoming more stressful.
From al-Shorouk’s July 22, 2009 edition:
European Attempts to Gather Hamas and Israel in Geneva
High-level Palestinian sources disclosed to al-Shorouk that members of Hamas, Fatah and Israelis will participate in a conference to be convened in Geneva at the end of the month. Among the prominent Hamas personalities attending is Ahmed Youssef, advisor to Chairman Ismail Haniyeh. On the Israeli side, former Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin, one of the most important members of Israel’s Oslo negotiating team, will attend. The goal of the conference, which Switzerland called for and is supported by a number of European nations, is to restart peace negotiations, which have been frozen for a number of years, although conference participants will only present their recommendations for the possibility of restarting the peace process, and the framework under which it can happen. In remarks to al-Shorouk, political advisor to the Hamas government Ahmed Youssef said that he had received offers in the past to participate in similar conferences from European countries including Norway, Germany and Britain, and that those offers still stand.
Youssef participated several years ago in a similar conference in which Israelis participated, which ended in the Geneva Initiative. However, he reinforced the difficulties of participating in a conference with Israelis, because there are Hamas regulations about doing so. In the same vein, Ibrahim Salah, head of the Federal International Islamic Union (TBE: We think this is some sort of Swiss official or semi-official body, but are not sure.), in a telephone interview with al-Shorouk about the presence of non-stop attempts on the part of the Europeans to convene meetings about peace amongst Palestinians, including Hamas, and Israel.