Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Member of Knesset Major General (ret.), one of the accord’s primary architects, said in defense of [the Geneva Accord's] extra-governmental status: “We should argue about our future—it is our future, after all! We cannot wait for other people to provide us solutions. We have no authorization to sign papers, but no one can prevent us from thinking and proposing solutions to a chaotic situation in which people are getting killed every day. And killing, that is for sure not the solution.”
A fitting statement indeed, from a man who has dedicated his life of public service to the struggle for a peaceful and secure future for Israel.
Lipkin-Shahak rose to public prominence as a highly decorated war hero. He enlisted in the elite paratroopers’ brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1962 and ascended through the ranks over the course of a 26-year-long military career to become a Major General. In March 1991, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin appointed Lipkin-Shahak to be the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces and the IDF’s Chief of Staff in 1995. The General’s awards for peacetime and combat service include two Israeli citations for valor and an American Legion of Merit presented to him by the American Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1997. The Legion of Merit, conferred by the Department of Defense, is the highest U.S. military award that can be presented to a foreign military officer.
Lipkin-Shahak’s career as a negotiator began, when as Chief of Staff, he was entrusted by Rabin to lead the Israeli team in negotiating with the Palestinians the historic withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and Jericho in 1994. Lipkin-Shahak was also selected by Rabin to represent Israel at a summit meeting with the Syrians regarding security issues and the advancement of the peace process.
Upon retiring from the military in 1998, Lipkin-Shahk played a central role in the formation of the Hamercaz (The Center) Party, becoming a political figure in his own right when he won a seat in the Knesset in 1999, whereupon he was appointed Minister of both Tourism and Transportation in the cabinet of then Prime Minister Ehud Barak. As a senior member of the negotiating team led by Prime Minister Barak, Lipkin-Shahak participated in the Israeli-Palestinian summit at Camp David in 2000, as well as the subsequent rounds of negotiations in Sharm El-Sheik and Taba. It was the Taba meetings’ end point that in turn served as the foundation for the negotiations of the Geneva Accord.