On the Road to Jericho

The next  Israeli-Palestinian public negotiating congress is scheduled for April 10-11 at Almog Junction (which is on the road to Jericho, West Bank).  It is the 25th such meeting, and each delegation will include at least 10 representatives from all walks of life -- Israeli generals, Palestinian commanders, Israeli settlers, Palestinian ex-prisoners, academics, business people, and students.

With the goal of a larger congress always in mind, Dr. Sapir Handelman and Mr. Ibrahim Enbawi will once again demonstrate the real possibility of finding common ground among panelists reflecting the entire political spectrum.  A larger congress, they propose, would help MOP show that solutions are possible.



When developing important plans, it is often a good idea to think back to the beginning to see what progress has been made.  Viewing video from the very first Minds of Peace negotiating session at the University of Missouri St. Louis gives a sense of Dr. Handelman's purpose and commitment.  He introduces the project by saying, “The consensus among analysts is that there is no new thing--everything has been tried and failed.  We believe at this table that this is not true.  We believe that this is nonsense....There is always a place for creative ideas, for new initiatives, especially in such a complicated situation.”  From that optimistic beginning we now have 22 rounds of successful negotiations, and we are looking forward to the next one.



The most recent attempt at creating an Israeli-Palestinian Negotiating Congress ended abruptly as extremists demonstrated against the Minds of Peace initiative.  However the next congress is in the planning process.  Says Dr. Handelman, “Every effective peacemaking initiative is going to increase the level of violence – We are not going to let extremists dictate conditions to the rest of the people!”


Historic Negotiations

The Israeli-Palestinian Public Negotiating Congress will be January 10-11.  It will be an historic event --first part in Ramallah; second part in Jerusalem.
Each delegation is going to include at least 15 delegates from all walks of life reflecting the entire political spectrum: generals, settlers, ex-Palestinian prisoners, business people, academicians and students.


Involving the People

On the MOP Facebook page Dr. Handelman asks if the negotiations with Iran are wise or silly.  He asserts that we don’t know the answer yet.  But we do know the outcome regardless: The people will pay the price for agreements made or not made by their leaders.

Coincidentally, the apartheid regime in South Africa was formalized in 1948, the same year that five nations attacked Israel the morning after statehood was granted by the United Nations.  Nevertheless, amid much protest, South Africa began to negotiate to end apartheid in 1990. National elections in 1994 brought it to an end.

Dr. Handelman often refers to South Africa as a model for the Minds of Peace project. Much of the success of that conflict which was also steeped in violence, is attributed to the involvement of the people.  Indeed, a 2002 report on South African participation says, “Despite its limitations – dealing with the symptoms of violence rather than its causes and lacking legal force – the NPA (National Peace Accord) helped contain violence, altered the attitude of the security forces and introduced an element of public accountability and pressure for peace.  Author Chris Spies reports that “The exposure of tens of thousands of people to conflict resolution methodologies made a difference in the way many chose to respond to conflict”

More recently, the South African National Peace Project was set up by Ms Patrys Wolmarans to involve the people in bringing peace and equality to South Africa.  She says, “The Peace Project belongs to the people of South Africa. They have to make it happen.”