We met again and what a day it was!
A month had passed since the first meeting between the two groups of students from The Jerusalem School from East Jerusalem and the Diplomatic Department of Ort Binyamina, and on 4/24/2018 they met again for the second congress at the Charney Resolution Center.
After greeting each other with warm hugs and cheers, they took their seats, forming three mixed groups of Palestinian and Israeli delegations, prepared to negotiate their version of a peace treaty.
The core guideline for the day, as defined by Dr. Sapir Handelman of Minds of Peace, was:
Do not revisit the roots of the conflict so as to to come up with the best possible, and defendable, model for a peace treaty.
With that framework, the students started discussing many issues such as government, security, borders/checkpoints, army/police, immigration restrictions, education and language.
All three groups handled the negotiations with tremendous respect and inclusion of all members. Attentively listening to each other, the students addressed the concerns and points raised by both sides. There were moments of laughter and relief, as well as some tense moments, bridged with the guidance of Dr. Handelman. At the end of a long day, (and after a lovely lunch the students shared together at the main dining hall), each group presented its creative path for a peace treaty:
· One State Two Nations – In which the ruling government responsibilities as well as the army and police would be shared and combined equally by both sides! All kids would learn both Hebrew and Arabic, starting at Kindergarten, while general subjects would be taught in English. In honor of the three major religions, there would be a three-day weekend, and all students would enjoy days off during each religion’s holidays! (This would unfortunately require a shorter summer vacation).
· Two states - Wherein Jerusalem becomes an international city, Ramallah remains the capital of Palestine, and Tel Aviv becomes that of Israel.
· The third group respectfully agreed to disagree and presented not two, but three models!
The Israeli: Two cooperative states with flexible boarders wherein citizens on both sides are allowed to move freely and stay/live anywhere they choose!
The Palestinian: One state with equal rights to all citizens.
A second Israeli model presented by one member of the Israeli delegation: all areas are divided into territories in which the ruling party is determined by the majority of the present population, and everyone can choose whether to stay or live somewhere else.
All of these unconventional and creative ideas demonstrate the difficulties and challenges of the path to a peaceful solution to the conflict. But above all, they affirm to all of us that there is no other option, for both sides, but to continue and negotiate our way to peace. And with these young leaders, who dare to dream big and beyond the conventional wisdom, we concluded the day feeling hopeful for a brighter future in the region!