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Israelis Set Table to Talk Peace

Col. (Res.) Shaul Arieli recounts his first-of-its-kind initiative of opening simultaneous discussion tables throughout Israel, for people to talk about peace.             
Palestinian protesters wave Palestinian flags as Israelis carrying Israeli flags walk past in front of the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City during a parade marking Jerusalem Day May 8, 2013. Jerusalem Day marks the anniversary of Israel's capture of the Eastern part of the city during the 1967 Middle East War. In 1980, Israel's parliament passed a law declaring united Jerusalem as the national capital, a move never recognised internationally. There were confrontations on Wednesday between Muslims
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Shaul Arieli never tires. He doesn’t have time. For several years now he has been arranging guided tours of the West Bank to convince anyone who will listen that there is hope, that peace can be reached with the Palestinians, that the two-state idea is not dead, that giving up is not an option. On June 23, he will head a one-of-its-kind event, unprecedented in scope, called “Setting the Table for Peace.” This is the idea: on that day, hundreds of round tables will be set up simultaneously at 11 focal points around the country, and the public will be invited to take a seat and discuss all aspects of the diplomatic process. The aim of the event’s organizers is to enable people to listen and make themselves heard regarding promotion of the peace initiative and, subsequently, to put pressure on their leaders.

''The idea came up in a conversation between myself, Koby Huberman, a high-tech entrepreneur active in various pro-peace organizations, and professor Daniel Bar-Tal, a Tel Aviv University professor of social psychology. We decided to hold an Israeli-Jewish-international conference in Jerusalem next year to express the voice of that part of Israeli society — we contend they are the  majority — which supports the idea of two states for two peoples. In advance of the conference, and without waiting, we decided to present full cooperation among all the organizations and movements right now,” he said. It should be noted that the idea of cooperation among the peace groups was welcomed by all, without exception.

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