To many, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears to be at an impasse, where the prospect of escalating violence remains firmly in place. However, in spite of the very real challenges, possibilities for progress – to move towards an environment where a durable peace is more likely – do exist. Identifying these possibilities, and acting upon them, can only be achieved through intensive and sustained dialogue. To this end, Forward Thinking held a series of bilateral meetings throughout Israeli and Palestine with figures from across the political spectrum between the 28th-31st May.
Meetings with Palestinian political figures took place in Jerusalem, Gaza, Hebron and Ramallah and provided an opportunity to both develop the analysis that underpins our work and to build further channels of communication between key figures. Meetings occured at a time of critical importance, as tensions between Israel and Gaza remain high.
The visit also enabled us to build upon our work exploring the experiences of Northern Ireland with the Israeli political and religious right wing parties. In this vein, meetings were held between Members of the UK Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland from the Democratic Unionist Party, and Members of the Knesset and key influencers from within the governing coalition. This allowed Israeli participants to examine the experiences of the DUP in Northern Ireland across the course of the Irish peace process, and to use this experience as a frame of reference when forming opinions and making decisions within their own context.