Dozens of Leading Israeli and Palestinian Women Meet in Ramallah

On September 7, the Geneva Initiative conducted a tour of Ramallah for leading women in Israeli and Palestinian society. Following the tour, the women participated in a leadership program together.
7.9.2011
 
As part of the Geneva Initiative's Womens' Forum, we held a meeting for Israeli and Palestinian women in Ramallah. Participants included leaders from the public, business, social and media sectors. During the meeting, the women discussed the Conflict and ways to resolve it in a roundtable format, toured around Ramallah and met with the Secretary General of the PLO, Yasser Abed Rabbo.
 
The Forum was created by former Geneva Initiative seminar participants at the beginning of the year, with the intention of expanding their sphere of influence and promoting a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians by face-to-face meetings in various social sectors. After several meetings, the original group expanded to include women from new sectors: lawyers, journalists, public service workers, educators, politicians and more.
 
As part of the meeting, the Israeli women came to Ramallah to meet a group of Palestinian women of similar levels of influence. Opening remarks were given by Director General of the Palestinian arm of the Geneva Initiative, Nidal Foqaha, head of the Israeli delegation, Talia Sasson, and project managers Hadas Grinvald and Fatina Abud. The women then were put into working groups around roundtables, got to know each other and started debating the hot issues - how to reach an agreement, the role of women in advocating for an agreement, and how to influence decision makers.
 
Afterwards, the group met with Yasser Abed Rabbo, Palestinian Geneva Initiative founder who serves as the Secretary General of the PLO and manages the committee on September.
 
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Abed Rabbo's words are summarized below in excerpts from an article written about the meeting by Maayan Sarig, Israel Channel 2 correspondent who took part in the event (translated from Hebrew by Geneva Initiative staff):
 
Secretary General of the PLO, Yasser Abed Rabbo, thinks the Palestinian bid at the UN at the end of September is a natural step. In a conference in Ramallah Abed Rabbo said that Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to negotiate, but negotiations always failed. "We can no longer be ignored, although Israel and the United States try", he said.
 
"We did not decide to go to the UN until we had exhausted all other political options with Israel", said Abed Rabbo in a conference held by the Israeli Palestinian Women's Forum. "Netanyahu's government asked us to hold seceret talks so they could speak freely", he says, adding that "we held intensive talks, even last week, with Peres and Barak. What resulted from them? Nothing. What were we offered? Nothing. So where is our other option aside from going to the UN?"
 
He expects that the UN will recognize Palestinian rights. He is unsure of the exact consequences, but he is sure they cannot be ignored. He is ready for American intervention. "Palestinians, too, have rights that cannot be ignored, and it is time for Americans to say to Israel - enough!" He said, "Europe actually understands us. If the US does not support us, it will be partly to blame for this situation."
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Abed Rabbo's comments received attention in various other Israeli media outlets.
 
Israeli and Palestinian women pose for a picture
during their tour of Ramallah.