The Geneva Initiative in Haifa: Joint seminar for key Israeli and Palestinian political activists

On September 29-30, the Geneva initiative brought together 20 Palestinian and Israeli political activists for two days of lectures, discussions and joint work in the city of Haifa. The weekend seminar focused on providing participants with detailed knowledge and a toolkit for promoting the two-state solution. 


Participants on both sides were all highly motivated and politically active people, who engage on a daily basis with diverse Israeli and Palestinian communities from across the political spectrum. On the Palestinian side, participants were namely young activists, including youth leaders, educators and media professionals. On the Israeli side, participants were key activists from the coalition party Kulanu.
The seminar hosted Kulanu Member of Knesset Akram Hasson, who talked about the current political situation and highlighted the importance and urgency of reaching a sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also encouraged the participants to "make the most of this unique opportunity, to get to know each other and find ways to work together to promote the two-state solution". Throughout the weekend the participants debated the feasibility of the two-state solution, discussed specific core issues such as Jerusalem, security, borders and refugees, and reflected on proposed solutions.
Despite being highly engaged and experienced political activists, most participants in the seminar have never had a chance to meet people from the other side, let alone to hold a serious conversation about the conflict and ways to solve it. One Israeli participant said at the end of the weekend: "I see myself as an informed political activist and one that holds very solid views about the peace process. But the truth is that I had absolutely no idea how the conflict really affects the daily lives of Palestinians. For instance, how checkpoints restrict their movement even within the West Bank. I understand that it's not enough to read the news; to truly understand this complex reality, you have to make an effort and meet the person on the other side". 
This seminar was made possible through the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development.