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(photo credit: AP)
A group of public figures on the Left will launch an initiative in upcoming weeks to support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's efforts to advance the peace process, officials involved in the campaign said on Tuesday.
The group includes former ministers Ami Ayalon and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former deputy minister Dalia Rabin, former Foreign Ministry director-general Avi Gil, former IAF commander Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eliezer Shkedi and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Ya'acov Perry. They are seeking more public figures to join the campaign.
The initiative, called Blue and White Peace, will try to persuade the public, via advertising, press interviews and parlor meetings, that creating a Palestinian state and pursuing the diplomatic process with the Palestinians and Arab countries is in Israel's interest.
The organizers said the goal of the campaign was not to strengthen Netanyahu personally, but to persuade him that the public was behind whatever he would do to advance the diplomatic process. They said they decided on the move because they realized that Netanyahu's coalition was stable, and they wanted to do whatever they could to advance chances of peace during the current administration.
"This is a citizens' initiative of people who care and are representing only themselves and who think that a peace agreement is first and foremost in Israel's interests, not the Palestinians' or the Americans'," a public figure involved in the initiative said.
"Right now people think Bibi is just caving into Obama. It's forbidden that advancing peace be seen as surrendering to American or Palestinian interests, instead of as acting to maintain Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."
The official, who is on the Left of the political map, rejected the notion that he was betraying his ideology by backing the prime minister.
"Ideas matter, not the people," he said. "We're not advancing Bibi. He's advancing our interests."