Getting to know each other: Palestinian and Israeli young leaders met in Jerusalem and talked about advancing peace

In the past two months, the Geneva Initiative ran two parallel courses for young leaders: the Palestinian Peace Coalition held a course for young Palestinian Leaders, and H.L. Education for Peace held a course for young Israeli leaders. On Saturday, 50 of the courses' alumni met in Jerusalem for a joint workshop.
The meeting began with a Q&A panel with the Geneva Initiative’s Directors General, Nidal Foqaha and Gadi Baltiansky. "We, the Palestinians, like you a lot more than you think", told Foqaha to the Israeli participants. "We have the same fears and the same desires. Most of us want to live a normal life, and understand that this is also the case on your side".
Baltiansky stressed the importance of ending the conflict, and the challenges ahead: "If the conflict will last for many years, we know for a fact that someone we know, a friend or a relative, could possibly get injured or even die. By not doing everything in our power to reach a solution, we accept the fact that someone we know could get hurt, and that we did nothing to prevent it. "
The participants then engaged in discussion, exchanged thoughts and shared their points of view on the conflict. Special focus was given to identifying ways to improve the situation in the current political reality. This was the first time many of the young leaders have ever met and spoken to people from the other side.
After the meetings, Israeli participant Shai Gal shared his thoughts on Facebook: "we already know that there is a partner on the other side. We also know that most of the public, both in Israel and Palestine, seek peace and support the two state solution. Therefore, we have a common task: we must make sure that people in our communities know that there is a vast majority on the other side that wants peace".
The courses and the joint meeting were made possible through the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development.
Interview with Palestinian Geneva Initiative’s Directors General, Nidal Foqaha