BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have reportedly asked an Israeli peace campaign to remove their pictures from a series of advertisements, Israeli media reported Tuesday.
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the two Palestinian Authority officials asked the Geneva Initiative made the request through intermediaries to remove their pictures from the Partner in Peace campaign for failing to secure their consent to use their likeness.
The Geneva Initiative, which has branches in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, launched a joint project at the start of September, with TV and internet advertisements featuring members of the PLO negotiations team asking Israeli viewers if they will be a "peace partner."
The videos begin with a line of head shots of each of the negotiations team members, apparently implying their endorsement of the project.
Director of the Israeli branch Gadi Baltiansky explained that the ad campaign "aims to counter the myth that there is no partner on the Palestinian side. Director-General of the Palestinian Geneva Initiative Nidal Foqaha told Ma'an that there was no equivalent Palestinian version because "Our leadership is already convinced; the plan in Israel is to create a consensus with the public and then mobilize the leadership and create a real peace partner."
The clips stirred controversy among Palestinians, and hundreds rallied in Ramallah on Wednesday protesting peace talks they said were not representative of the Palestinian public because they lacked terms, references and guarantees that Israel would stick to its promises.
The Washington Post called the campaign "unusual," particularly the point in which Erekat "apologized to Israelis for past mistakes and reassured them that Palestinians are committed to peace alongside Israel."
“Shalom to you in Israel, I know we have disappointed you, I know we have been unable to deliver peace for the last 19 years," chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat says in his short appearance, while Yasser Abed Rabbowarns of the “dangers for both of us” if talks fail.