JERUSALEM, June 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday in Jerusalem, over 400 people gathered for the largest meeting of Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders in memory. Unite the Field: ALLMEP's 2022 Peacebuilders Conference saw the region's largest and fastest growing network of civil society peacebuilders convene its 150+ members, diplomats and partners for a day-long discussion of their work, and the challenges and opportunities of this moment.
The event began with special addresses from the EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza Sven Kuehn Von Burgsdorff, EU Deputy Representative to Israel Benoit Chapas, and the US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who thanked ALLMEP and its members for their work, saying, "I was honored to speak with ALLMEP members at their Peacebuilding Conference. What a group of fabulous organizations spearheading the work towards peace between Palestinians and Israelis. We are proud to call a number of these organizations our partners."
ALLMEP's US Director Kari Reid reflected that "even before COVID-19, Israelis and Palestinians were already too separated, with physical as well as psychological barriers limiting their ability to connect, and to work together for peace and equality. This event proved an important milestone in efforts to disrupt that reality, and at a scale that we've frankly never seen before."
With twelve different sessions, including panels, keynotes and workshops, as well as immersive sessions using Virtual Reality, a Storytellers Corner, and a Members Fair allowing organizations to present their work: there has never been such a gathering of Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders. They were joined by diplomats from over 30 countries as well as philanthropic partners, allowing all to participate in a strategic and inclusive discussion on civil society's role in disrupting the current reality.
As ALLMEP's Founder and President Avi Meyerstein said in his opening remarks, "at a time when few have hope for diplomacy, it's energizing to see hundreds of peacebuilders, diplomats and supporters gather to strengthen and scale the work that will make diplomacy possible in the future."
Thanks to ALLMEP's advocacy to help deliver the $250m Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA), there are now unprecedented resources available for peacebuilders, who have seen their budgets slashed in recent years. ALLMEP is continuing to campaign for an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, which was a topic of frequent discussion at the conference and could allow MEPPA to be leveraged toward a long-term and institutionalized approach to conflict resolution, with contributions from around the world. Speaking on one of the event's panels, former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro also noted that warming relations between Israel and the Gulf might allow Arab countries to participate in such a project for the first time.
Reflecting afterwards, ALLMEP's Executive Director John Lyndon said, "this was an important moment for peacebuilders. The violence, racism and injustice are real. But so is this community, and it is clearly growing. Together, these Israeli and Palestinian activists can break this structure of violence and dehumanization and build something better and more just in its place."
SOURCE The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP)