Israel’s shared interests with the “moderate axis” in the Middle East is a historic chance for diplomatic progress, the Knesset Caucus for Regional Cooperation stated Wednesday.

The caucus, led by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), hosted a conference at Tel Aviv University with two think tanks, Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy, and Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policy, attended by MKs from Meretz and Labor.

Horowitz referred to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statements that there is a new “diplomatic horizon” following Operation Protective Edge as a mirage.

“Netanyahu knows very well that there is a unique opportunity for major diplomatic action in the Middle East together with all the moderate factors, but he does not want it and does everything to sabotage it so he can survive politically.

He is sacrificing a broad national interest on the altar of narrow political considerations,” Horowitz said.

The Meretz MK called for Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative and join “moderate forces” instead of maintaining the status quo, which he said will lead Israel to another round of violence in the West Bank and Gaza.

“It’s only a matter of time,” Horowitz warned.

MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) said “there is a question as to whether our opportunity now is for a general agreement or just one about Gaza with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas.

“As for Gaza, there is a consensus in Israel. There is no argument about borders.

There is a strategic opportunity here to demilitarize [Gaza] in exchange for a seaport and airport. With that, we can continue with all the regional treaties that are now open to us.”

Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said that Israel is not a partner for peace with the Palestinians.

“Netanyahu is trying to manage the conflict but the conflict is managing him,” she said. “The public deserves to know what the agreement between Netanyahu and Hamas says, so it can know what to expect in the future.”

Mitvim chairman Nimrod Goren said that there are new opportunities for Israel, but in order to take them, Israel must change its foreign policy and put peace and regional cooperation first.

Goren suggested that Israel change its stance toward the Hamas-Fatah unity government, agree to negotiate with it, and accept incentives offered by the Arab League and European Union for making peace.

“Without progress in the peace process, Israel’s status in the world will continue to grow weaker,” he said.

Molad Managing Director Mikhael Manekin said that Operation Protective Edge was a strategic failure that showed Netanyahu’s strategy of conflict- management is not viable.

“The Left must find an alternative strategy that will address the hopes and fears of the Israeli public,” Manekin said.

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