Middle East Peace Programs

Briefings with Israeli and Palestinian Political Leaders

“Dialogue can’t be done with enemies. Yet if you wait until we are all friends, dialogue isn’t necessary.”

Comment of Israeli politician describing the political situation in a briefing to MEPI participants.

MEPI participants gained important insights from briefings with Israeli parliamentarians, scholars, diplomats, and journalists as well as from members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and municipal officials.

“Today in this world, we speak with each other but we never listen to each other," commented the president of Israel’s special advisory group on non-Jewish religions, Kamal Manzur. "God made us with one mouth to speak once, but two eyes and two ears to see and hear twice. It is a fact of life that Jews and Arabs will live here forever.” He suggested that Jews be encouraged to study Arabic in order to better understand their neighbors.

MEPI offers opportunities to listen to the humanitarian concerns of each side and communicate them to others. "No aggression will solve our problem,” stated Dr. Emil Jarjoui, the late Arab Christian who was a member of Palestinian Legislative Council with the Fatah Party. “Walls are not the solution. We need bridges. We are fed up with wars and funerals and blood. We want to live like any other people in the world. Both parties need to sit together as friends, as neighbors who can decide the future.”


Mayor Victor Batarset of Bethlehem, Mayor Hani Al-Hayek of Beit Sahour, and Mayor Raji Zeidan of Beit Jala described the difficulties of living under occupation and the problems caused by the Palestinian financial crisis.

At the conclusion of their briefings, key officials voiced their desire for peace as long as the rights of all people living on the landJews, Christians and Muslimsare not neglected. “We want to cooperate with the Israeli state and live at peace with Israel,” said Deputy President Azam al-Ahmad, another member of the Fatah Party.

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