Israeli party pledges talks with Hamas

Israel’s ultra-liberal party Green Leaf is relying on youth disillusionment as it prepares for the March 28 elections, promising to decriminalise cannabis and talk to Hamas.

Green Leaf intends to legalise cannabis

Boaz Wachtel, the 48-year-old party founder, predicts that his seven-year-old fringe formation could get three seats in the 120-member Israeli Knesset, or parliament.


“Israelis are sick and tired of being prisoners of the political/security agenda that prevents politicians from dealing with acute social and environmental problems,” he told, describing Green Leaf’s constituency as urban and secular Israelis in the 18-40 age group. 


He said environmental issues, the legalisation of cannabis and the peace process would make strides with Green Leaf in parliament.  


“We advocate a two-state solution and a unique plan for Jerusalem.”

Under Green Leaf’s plan, Arab east Jerusalem, occupied and annexed by Israel in 1967, would be shared between and governed by the three monotheistic religions and placed under UN supervision. “Both the Palestinians and the Israelis could call Jerusalem their capital,” Wachtel said.  


He said his party also stood for same-sex marriage and the legalisation of prostitution.


Dialogue with Hamas 


Green Leaf wants Jerusalem tobe shared by both sides
Green Leaf wants Jerusalem tobe shared by both sides

Green Leaf wants Jerusalem to
be shared by both sides

Green Leaf is also ready to engage in a dialogue with Hamas, which recently came to power in the Palestinian elections.

Dismissing an apparent clash in values, Wachtel said: “My primary ideology is to make peace and to invite and influence Hamas to accept Israel.”


Hamas which was voted to power recently has refused to recognise the existence of Israel.


But, unlike his number two Shlomi Sendak who was quoted by the Israeli media as saying he was ready to negotiate with Hamas with no pre-conditions, Wachtel insisted that the Islamist group must first “cease terrorism and declare Israel’s right to exist, if not there will not be any practical results.” 


“If there is no dialogue, we won’t have any ability to influence one another. You don’t need to dialogue with a friend but you must maintain a dialogue with your enemy,” he said.  


The Israeli government recently said it would boycott the new Palestinian leadership that advocated the destruction of Israel, though Hamas has indicated it envisaged a long-term truce with the Jewish state. 


Political apathy 


Wachtel did not anticipate that Green Leaf would swing the vote despite widely-published comments by former Labour leader and now number two in the centrist Kadima party that “Green Leaf is our real and major foe in the elections.” 


“We make everybody look old, boring and uninteresting”

Boaz Wachtel,
Green Leaf founder

“What Peres said in Hebrew is that we are his ‘intellectual foes’, he meant that we’re the avant-garde of Israeli politics. We make everybody look old, boring and uninteresting,” said Wachtel.  


Wachtel said according to recent estimates “this election will have the lowest turnout ever, at around 65% because there is no clear leader like (ailing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon. It is a real danger for Israel’s democracy.” 


Israeli will cast their ballots on Tuesday in an election whose results are already foretold, according to the latest polls.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party – founded after the coma-stricken Sharon quit Likud last November – is expected to win the vote. Its main rival Labour is on course for 17 seats and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud is expected to win just 14 of the 120 seats.

Source: Al Jazeera