Beilin Leaves Politics, Enters Business

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Former chairman of the ultra left-wing Meretz party, Yossi Beilin, 60, announced his decision to retire from politics Tuesday evening.

"I received Beilin's decision to quit with great sadness," Meretz chairman Haim Oron said.

"Beilin is one of the (country's) most important leaders. (He has) shaped a political path that most of Israel's citizens support today. I hope and believe that his brave way of thinking will continue to serve Israel and Meretz in the future," Oren said.

Beilin, who began his political career in 1977 as spokesman for the Labor party, quit Labor in 2003 to join Meretz, where he served as party chairman until Oron's election this past March.

The ultra-dovish politician is best known for his involvement in various peace initiatives to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In 1993, spurred on by his mentor Shimon Peres, Beilin began meeting secretly with Palestinian leaders, which eventually produced the Oslo Accords.

In 1995, he became a signatory with Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) of the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement, a list of "guidelines" for achieving permanent peace.

In 2001, he helped draft the Geneva Accords, also known as the Geneva Initiative, an extra-governmental document outlining an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, which was officially presented on December 1, 2003, in Geneva. Beilin and PA minister Yasser Abed Rabbo were both signatories.

Like the Saudi peace plan, the Geneva Initiative calls for Israel to retreat to pre-1967 borders. The initiative calls for Palestinians to disarm "illegally armed groups" and cease acts of terror and incitement to violence against Israelis.

Funding for promotion of the Geneva Accords was provided by private donors, though that information has never been disclosed to the public.

While the Israeli government rejected the agreement, former head of Fatah's Tanzim militia Marwan Bargouti, serving consecutive life sentences for murder, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter endorsed the initiative.

According to a Jerusalem Post report on March 10, 2008, Barghouti told Meretz chairman Haim Oron that "it was possible for Israel and the Palestinians to reach a final status agreement along the lines of the Geneva Initiative."

Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post, Wikipedia

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