In its latest campaign under the slogan "I am your partner. Are you my partner?" the Geneva Initiative, which promotes a model agreement as the basis for peace between Israel and the Palestians, has featured a number of senior Palestinians - but it turns out that the two most senior officials, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, did not give their permission for the use of their likenesses.
Furthermore, in the past several days, through an intermediary, Fayyad has asked that his picture be removed from the Geneva Initiative's campaign. Abbas, who has been in Washington and North Africa over the past week, has not asked that the campaign stop using his likeness and has not withdrawn his participation in the campaign, but Fayyad, who was in the West Bank at the time, has sought to have his picture removed.
Palestinian sources said Fayyad views the campaign as "too Israeli" and tilted in favor of Israel, but they made it clear that it wasn't a case of Fayyad not wanting to be a peace partner, but rather that in his view the campaign presented the Palestinians as responsible for the fact that there was no peace, something Fayyad said was not the case. The Palestinian prime minister's view, according to the sources, was that the absence of peace is the Israeli government's doing. Fayyad also reportedly noted that it wasn't clear to him why the campaign did not also feature Israeli figures addressing the Palestinian public.
Activists for the Geneva Initiative refused to comment on the issue other than saying that the campaign spoke for itself. In addition to an office in Tel Aviv, the Geneva Initiative has a Ramallah office that was apparently supposed to secure the consent of the Palestinian leaders to use their likenesses in the campaign.
The Geneva Initiative campaign is patterned on the Facebook social networking approach, but unlike Facebook in which individuals ask others to be their "friends," the campaign presents prominent Palestinians in a "partner request" as wanting to be "partners" in the peace process.
Among those featured in video clips in support of the campaign are the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat; Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee who is taking the lead on the Palestinian side for the Geneva Initiative; senior Fatah official Sufian Abu Zaida and Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki. On its Facebook page, the Geneva Initiative included the pictures of Abbas and Fayyad.
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