Israeli and Palestinian women are the “silent heroines” of the quest for peace, United States Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Hallett told hundreds of female activists from Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and abroad who gathered in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
“You are not only stakeholders in the quest for peace, but you’re often working tirelessly behind the scenes to build bridges, as you are doing here today with each other, fostering understanding, and promoting reconciliation,” she said.
Hallett spoke to members of the Israeli group Women Wage Peace and the Palestinian Women of the Sun. They held an afternoon march in Jerusalem from the Monument of Tolerance to the end of the Goldman Promenade in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood.
They then traveled by bus to Neveh Midbar beach at the Dead Sea for a series of events including a peace quilt and the artistic installation by Sigalit Landau of an empty peace table.
Politicians and foreign diplomats joined march on Wednesday
Diplomats posted in Israel as well as politicians from abroad also participated including Sonya McGuinness, Irish ambassador-designate, and Viviane Teitelbaum, a member of Belgium’s regional parliament and vice-president of European Women’s Lobby.
The two groups draw women of all political stripes around a central belief in peace and demand that women be included in the peacemaking process.
In addressing participants at Monday’s event, Hallett said, “Your unwavering commitment to peace is a testament to the strength and resilience of everyone here, and everyone in your communities who supports you.
“Empowering women in all aspects of society, including in peace negotiations, as we know very well, is central to our foreign policy agenda, including right here in Jerusalem,” she added.
“Women are absolutely at the forefront of these efforts, and I commit to you that I, and my colleagues at the embassy and our Office of Palestinian Affairs will continue to champion your essential role in building a better future for us, for you, for me, for our sons and our daughters – for all of us,” she said.
Leaders call for more women to join
Yael Admi, one of the founders and leaders of the Israeli-based group Women Wage Peace, told the media that, “It is time for courageous leaders to generate hope for a better future for our children.”
Reem Hajajr, a founder of Women of the Sun, said “more and more women join the movement, women who want to protect their children and prevent them from being the next victim....We started out as a movement with a few lone women and now we are thousands from the West Bank and Gaza.
“We no longer take the back seat and are determined to act persistently to end the cycle of bloodshed and to achieve freedom and a just, honorable life for Palestinian and Israeli children,” she said.
Eva Biaudet, a Finnish member of Parliament, said she came to Israel just for this event to support the courageous Israeli and Palestinian women.
“In Finland, my generation has not experienced war” although they have seen “violence in the private sphere.”
“Now when we are seeing Russia’s war against Ukraine you see how fragile peace is,” she said. It’s a reminder that “women need to be more present in decision-making.”