(photo credit: AP [file])
Kadima MK Avi Dichter initiated what he described as a "national conversation on the regional initiative" via the popular social networking site Facebook over the weekend, but said Sunday that he was not ready to discuss with the media the implications of his soul-searching over the so-called Arab Peace Initiative.
Dichter wrote in a June 2009 op-ed in The Jerusalem Post that "now is the time to see whether underneath the Arab initiative proposed regional approach lays" an opportunity for peace. He also wrote: "This regional plan includes important strategic and tactical aspects which could very well provide Israel with the peace, prosperity and even security that we have yearned for so long."
On Thursday, Dichter and his staffers created the discussion group on Facebook, adding video clips and articles - including the former Shin Bet head's opinion peace in the Post. One day later, Dichter noted with satisfaction that he was "happy to see that already after one day, over 360 people have joined in the conversation. The regional initiative is still not perfect, but is an effective base for building a real plan." Dichter called on viewers to "Make your stance heard on the topic."
Since then, the site has received a series of comments - a few negative and more positive - but so far, Dichter has consciously confined his dialogue to cyberspace.
Dichter staffers told the Post on Sunday that the Kadima MK was still waiting before publicly speaking about the initiative, despite receiving a number of overtures from the press to be interviewed on the subject. Instead, he would rather "listen" to the conversation and "create awareness in the general public." So far, the discussion on the site has centered around the likelihood that all the Arab states would recognize Israel as the Jewish state in exchange for a retreat to 1967 boundaries, the basic deal at the heart of the Arab initiative. While some participants have labeled the discussion organizers as "stupid lefties," others have said that they believe - if it were possible - that such a deal would be beneficial.
Dichter staffers said that while the minister saw the initiative as a source for contact, and a positive idea, they emphasized that he did not believe it must be adopted in its entirety and that any solution must maintain Jerusalem under Israeli control as the capital of the Jewish state.
Dichter is the chairman of the Kadima shadow committee tasked with reviewing the Arab initiative, and his final opinion on the matter is believed to reflect the official party stance on the plan - although a number of MKs on the party's right wing are less than enthusiastic about the initiative.
That team, a sub-unit of the Kadima shadow committee on defense and foreign policy, is supposed to shape Kadima's alternative to the foreign policy strategies adopted by the Likud-run government.
Of all of the Kadima MK's, Dichter is one of the most Web-savvy, running ongoing conversations with both supporters and detractors worldwide via both Facebook as well as Twitter.