Over 400 people gathered in Jerusalem yesterday for the largest gathering of Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders in recent memory. Unite the Field: ALLMEP’s 2022 Peacebuilders Conference brought together the region’s largest and fastest-growing network of civil society peacebuilders, diplomats, and partners for a day-long discussion of their work, as well as the challenges and opportunities that face them now.
The event began with remarks from Sven Kuehn Von Burgsdorff, EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza, Benoit Chapas, EU Deputy Representative to Israel, and US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who thanked ALLMEP and its members for their efforts, 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 added 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.”
There has never been such a gathering of Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders, with twelve separate sessions including panels, keynotes, and workshops, as well as immersive sessions employing Virtual Reality, a Storytellers Corner, and a Members Fair allowing groups to present their work. They were joined by diplomats and charitable partners from over 30 nations, allowing everyone to participate in a strategic and inclusive conversation on civil society’s role in disrupting the present paradigm.
As ALLMEP’s Founder and President Avi Meyerstein in his opening remarks at the conference said, “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.”
There are now unprecedented resources available for peacebuilders, who have seen their budgets slashed in recent years, thanks to ALLMEP’s advocacy to help deliver the $250 million Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA). ALLMEP is continuing its push for an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, which was a hot topic at the conference and may help MEPPA become a long-term and institutionalised method to conflict resolution with donations from all across the world. Former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, speaking on one of the event’s panels, also mentioned that improved relations between Israel and the Gulf could allow Arab countries to engage in such a project for the first time.
John Lyndon, Executive Director of ALLMEP, reflecting on the event 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.”