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The start of December saw the official launch of a peace proposal that members of the Israeli leftist opposition and Palestinian officials have been working on for the past two-and-a-half years.

Dozens of Israeli delegates, including members of the world of entertainment, several literati and a number of Labor MKs, joined the authors of the accord to mark its launch at a ceremony on December 1, hosted by Hollywood actor Richard Dreyfuss. The several dozen Palestinians who attended, among them Yasser Arafat's national security advisor Jibril Rajoub, traveled to Geneva after the PA chairman gave his last-minute blessing.

The initiative, which was unveiled in mid-October, was spearheaded by Oslo architect Yossi Beilin on the Israeli side and former minister Yasser Abed Rabbo for the Palestinians.

The plan, dubbed the Geneva Accord in tribute to the funding and support supplied by the Swiss Foreign Ministry, offers itself as a decisive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the plan drawn up by former U.S. president Bill Clinton after the breakdown in the July 2000 talks between former prime minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat.

Fifty-eight former presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other global leaders, among them former presidents Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union and F.W. de Klerk of South Africa, issued a statement expressing "strong support" for the plan. Other world leaders who voiced their backing included King Hassan III of Morocco, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Clinton.

Speaking at the start of ceremony, former U.S. president and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter hailed the accord as offering an end to bloodshed, while Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey dubbed it "a little light in the darkness."

At the heart of the proposal is a Palestinian concession on the right of return to lands within the State of Israel, in exchange for sovereignty over the Temple Mount. The plan also calls for an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip.

The proposal was met with furious disapproval by the Sharon government, which accused Israelis involved in the initiative of trying to act in place of a democratically-elected government.

TEXT OF THE GENEVA ACCORD

NewsBush: Geneva is 'productive'U.S. president says 'we appreciate people discussing peace,' but reiterates his administration's commitment to the Middle East road map for peace. (05/12/03)

Ministers, right-wing MKs lambaste colleagues for attending Geneva ceremonyYisrael b'Aliyah MK Edelstein says lawmakers Oron, Bronfman, Burg, Tamir and Mitzna all contravened Knesset regulations by attending the ceremony. (02/12/03)

Israeli Arab groups slam Geneva Accords on refugees' rightsIsraeli Arabs are disappointed - as they have been in the wake of prior agreements - by the negligible weight their voice was given by both sides.(02/12/03)

Rabbis label accord engineers 'traitors'The ruling, issued by 250 rightist rabbis, drew calls for a police probe from leftists who see it as incitement of the kind that led to the 1995 assassination of Rabin.(02/12/03)

Arafat rejects Geneva, but lets officials attend launchAccording to Palestinian sources, Arafat believes that its authors are "trading in national assets and are collaborators with the American Zionist project."(01/12/03)

Powell lends support to Geneva AccordThe secretary of state wrote that the U.S. believes projects as the initiative 'are important in helping to sustain an atmosphere of hope.(09/11/03)

Poll: Most Israelis, Palestinians support Geneva AccordThe poll showed 53% of Israelis and almost 56% of Palestinians support the deal, while 44% of Israelis and 39% percent of Palestinians oppose it.(24/11/03)

UN's Annan boosts Geneva peace planKofi Annan also lauds Nusseibeh-Ayalon peace plan, saying that grass-roots initiatives "helped to create a vision of a common future."(29/10/03)

Foreign Ministry chastises Swiss envoy: Stop pushing Geneva understandingsIsrael expressed its displeasure over Switzerland's activities on behalf of the document.(28/10/03)

Geneva team planning to promote the accordThe Israelis behind the accord met in Tel Aviv to discuss ways to build public support ahead of a putative November ceremony in Geneva.(20/10/03)

A crazy idea that captured imaginationsToday Professor Alexis Keller believes that even if the Geneva Accord is officially rejected, it will remain the model for any future agreement.(16/10/03)

Geneva Accord makes no mention of 'right of return'In the last paragraph, the sides agree that the UN should adopt the document in full and pass a special bill to annul its previous resolutions on the conflict. (16/10/03)

Plan drafters admit to lack of authorityIn a cover letter sent to the Swiss foreign minister, the participants write: "None of us represents our respective peoples in any binding sense." (15/10/03)

Arafat: accord lacks official statusThe Palestinian leader, responding with caution to the Geneva Accord peace proposal, called it a bid to achieve Middle East peace, but noted that the document had no official standing. (14/10/03)

PA: Arafat okayed Geneva AccordAbed Rabbo is a close associate of Arafat, and there is no chance he would have gone ahead with the talks without his approval, Palestinian leaders said.(14/10/03)

Beilin-Abed Rabbo accord infuriates right'I wouldn't have expected much else from those who brought us the Oslo Accords, for which foolishness we are still paying the price today,' said FM Shalom.(13/10/03)

Beilin associates: PM's office knew of negotiationsAccording to the former justice minister's camp, the Prime Minister's office was continually updated on developments, something the PMO denies.(13/10/03)

Israelis, Palestinians meet in Jordan on draft of Beilin-Abed Rabbo peace proposalThe talks are expected to result in the signing of a draft prepared by former justice minister Yossi Beilin and ex-Palestinian minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. (12/10/03)

Background and analysisThe road map is not the only game in townThe disdainful voices in Washington have become muted, in favor of a certain interest, albeit guarded, in the alternative peace initiatives that have sprung up in recent months.Nathan Guttman (03/11/03)

The road map is not the only game in townThe disdainful voices in Washington have become muted, in favor of a certain interest, albeit guarded, in the alternative peace initiatives that have sprung up in recent months.Nathan Guttman (03/11/03)

Billionaire Shaked helps turn wheels of GenevaThe involvement of Shaked, one of the first people to be enlisted, began at the behest of Yossi Beilin, long before Amram Mitzna and Avraham Burg.Mazal Mualem and Nathan Lipson (20/10/03)

The genie of GenevaThe Geneva plan does not include an explicit concession by the Palestinians of the right of return. The Geneva plan is also not a signed treaty.Uzi Benziman (17/10/03)

The left moves to fill the vacuumSharon and his ministers have lost control over the public debate, and over the last few weeks, they have been busy trying to fend off moves by the left. Aluf Benn (15/10/03)

Behind-the-scenes of the Geneva AccordAmi Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh have learned already that the hardest work begins after the signing of the agreement. The marketing of the Geneva Accord is expected to be no less difficult. Akiva Eldar (14/10/03)

For Beilin, the details are divineThe draft has become a Sukkot media hit in Israel, but its holiday luster will quickly fade and a new set of intriguing questions will arise. Yossi Verter (14/10/03)

PA withholds official responseThe PLO Action Committee cast doubt on the authority of the Palestinian delegation, and complained that the PLO was not adequately briefed. Danny Rubinstein (14/10/03)

Compromising as an intellectual exerciseThe accord is another expression of the awakening of the left, which was paralyzed during the period of the national unity government. Aluf Benn (13/10/03)

Editorial and opinionPresent but uncountedThe Geneva authors brought in people from the right and the center and dealt with the Jews of various origins - only the Israeli Arabs were invisible. Nazir Majali (05/12/03)

The dangers of the Geneva AccordIn going to Geneva, the peace yuppies did it once more: They forced through an irreversible diplomatic fact that they were not authorized to make. Ari Shavit (04/12/03)

After the Geneva ceremonyThe high level of support for the plan and the involvement of people from all walks of life are encouraging and raise expectations for what is yet to come. Editorial (03/12/03)

Hope in GenevaThe Geneva initiative attempts to grasp the bull by the horns and present both peoples with a comprehensive outline for a permanent-status agreement. Editorial (01/12/03)

We are the wolf, they are the sheepA hard look at the facts allows one to conclude that there is a genuine partner in the PA leadership for forging a final status peace accord. Gadi Baltiansky (26/11/03)

A welcome flurry of activityThe peace initiatives and various plans, and the support they are gathering, reflect widening cracks in public faith in the government's positions.Editorial (17/11/03)

The Geneva Accord - pure subversionThe 'Geneva Accord' is not the first time that bodies on the Israeli left have subverted the legitimate government.Zalman Shoval (17/10/03)

They are afraid of peaceThe initiative proves there is a partner on the other side and an alternative to the bloodshed. The panicky attacks by Sharon and his ministers can therefore be interpreted in only one way - fear. Amram Mitzna (16/10/03)

Temple Mount is more important than peaceCriticism of the process is diverting attention from the central and more important contents of the agreement - and primarily from the relinquishing of Jerusalem. Natan Sharansky (16/10/03)

The Geneva document is not barrenThe document embodies the most serious and comprehensive effort ever undertaken to end the conflict. Therefore, it indeed is an historic document. Ari Shavit (16/10/03)

Confusion in the Labor PartyThe disappointing responses came from members of the Labor Party, who ought to have supported the hopeful tidings enfolded in the accord's dozens of pages and articles. Editorial (15/10/03)

If it's so bad for Sharon, it must be good for us, Palestinians sayMost of the Palestinian public now sees the conflict as a zero-sum game. Ergo, if these accords are so bad for the Israeli PM, they must be good for us. Danny Rubinstein (15/10/03)

Separate and sustainable existenceIn light of the government's harsh attacks on the veryexistence of Israeli-Palestinian talks, it should once again be emphasized that these talks are entirely legitimate and even essential.Editorial (14/10/03)

A welcome and legitimate initiativeYossi Beilin succeeded twice - once in imparting a bit of renewed relevance to the Israeli left, at least in the media, and again in irritating Ariel Sharon.Editorial (12/10/03)