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27 / 06 / 2004
Gilad Ben Nun (Israel): “it would not be realistic to think that the situation is going to change in a short time”

In the panel on “Grassroots initiatives”, the representative of the War Torn Societies Project International highlighted the importance of listening to all parts in the israelo-palestinian conflict. Several peace advocates from Palestinian and Israeli organizations took part in the dialogue “Towards a World Without Conflict”

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Gilad Ben Nun, Israeli representative of the War Torn Societies Project International.

Stated “it wouldn’t be realistic to think that this situation is going to change in a short time”; he assessed the present conditions of the conflict and established a comparison between the present historic moment and the beginning of the Intifada.

According to Ben Nun, three factors bear a negative influence on the present situation: “first there is U.S. and Israeli unilateral thinking, then there is the building of the wall that alters dramatically what we had achieved so far, and finally there is the American occupation of Iraq, which also has an impact on Gaza and the West Bank.”

Ben Nun is currently working on a program that attempts to reconcile the two parts in conflict, a dialogue with the forces of both parts, even with those that have extreme positions. “We have spoken to the settlers of the occupied territories. Their being there is not lawful, they are going against the laws, – that is true –, but if we don’t speak to them nothing will be solved.” He explained that it is necessary to try different paths toward finding a solution for the conflict by working simultaneously with different sectors of society on both parts.

Rana Taha, a Palestinian representative working in the same UN project as Ben Nun, criticized some of the organizations that work for peace and promote dialogue, as they sometimes do not have a clear idea of how to develop and follow up their proposals. She criticized face-to-face projects that are meant “for the elite who speak foreign languages, studied in Western schools and are willing to talk to others.” For her, however, “most Palestinians and Israelis have not reached this stage and it is with them that we must work.”

She referred to them as “superficial” projects that are bound to become a failure as soon as violence begins again. She called on more sustainable projects that can face recurrent violence

She also added, “we are working on a project that will make possible for Palestinians and Israelis to see each other in 20, 30 or 25 years, and this should include all of them, from extremists to refugees, without exclusion.”

Teddy Katz from the Gush Shalom organization of Israel and Amneh Badran from the Jerusalem Center for Women, from Palestine, also took part in the afternoon sessions of this dialogue.