Unexpected support. Netanyahu
Photo: AFP
Ami Ayalon
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Yaakov Peri
Photo: Yaron Brenner
Photo: Zum 77
Gilad Sher
Photo: Zum 77
Left to mount campaign supporting PM
Ynet learns prominent political figures in Left, Center plan to launch campaign meant to bolster Netanyahu's public standing following Bar Ilan speech, in which he announced intention to promote two-state solution

Several prominent Leftists and centrists are planning to launch a new campaign supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the agenda he presented in his Bar Ilan speech, Ynet learned Tuesday.


The campaign, titled "Blue & White Peace," is meant to bolster Netanyahu's support of the a two-state solution.


Among those lending their support to the new initiative are former ministers Ami Ayalon and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Israeli Air Force Chief Eliezer Shkedy, former Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Yehuda Ben Meir and Attorney Gilad Sher, who headed the 1999 Israeli mission to Camp David.


Other prominent figures include Geneva Initiative CEO Gadi Baltiansky, former Shin Bet chiefs Yaakov Peri and Carmi Gilon, former deputy minister Dalia Rabin and former Knesset Member Etti Livni.


Another individual involved is former Foreign Ministry Director-General Avi Gil, who is a close associate of President Shimon Peres.


Sources familiar with the campaign told Ynet Peres has been kept abreast of its details. 


'We need to focus on the main agenda'

The group came together following the prime minister's June policy speech at Bar Ilan University. The speech focused on the two-state solution, a notion to which Netanyahu lent public support for the first time, as well as Israel's need to separate itself from the West Bank.


"We want to focus on the main agenda and it's important to us to bring in people who are not affiliated with the Left in order to send the message to as many publics as possible," said a source close to the group.


"Movements that believe in this solution should support the government, not oppose it. We have to push the consensual issues, or those that are near-consensual. The prime minister is facing more than ideological hurdles, we have to lend him our public support," a former top security figure who joined the group told Ynet.

Willing to elasticize? Netanyahu at Bar Ilan (Photo: AP)  


The group's efforts to enlist the support of as many public figures as possible is in full swing. Future plans include forming a public council to represent the members, as well as fundraising activities.


The first phase of the group's campaign is expected to include massive online presence. "The primary goal is to form online support groups," said a group source. 


Several leftist initiatives, meant to promote private plans aimed at achieving a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, have been put forward over the years, many of them stemming from the premise that a Right-led government would be unwilling to pursue the peace process.


'Go with the flow'

According to a source close to the group, while Netanyahu has given no indication that an ideological change on his part is imminent, "he has been willing to elasticize his positions on various matters".


"We feel that if he thinks he has significant public support for the two-state solution it would be easier for him to act on it. The majority of the Israeli public supports this solution and we want to express that support," an official source told Ynet. 


"Blue & White Peace" will have nothing to do with the prime minister's political affiliation, said other sources in the group, as it will focus solely on promoting the idea of a Palestinian state.


"The idea is to go with the flow, so to speak. The Left may have won an ideological victory in the last election, but it lost politically," said another source.


"Some in the Left have already given up, so we have to help those in power – whoever they are. We don't care about political affiliation, we care about pushing the idea. If Netanyahu can enter negotiations, we want to help him."  


Nevertheless, the group stressed that the future campaign will not signal any personal endorsement of Netanyahu. "The idea is to back anyone who truly wants to advance the two-state solution. As long as Netanyahu truly acts on the agenda expressed at Bar Ilan, we will support him."


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