Largest congress of Israeli-Palestinian students to meet and discuss peace

The congress is encouraged to refrain from discussing the conflicts origins, but instead focus on fixing the problem at hand, regardless of how it started.

Ninety students from around the world take part in a "peace-process" simulation (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ninety students from around the world take part in a "peace-process" simulation
(photo credit: Courtesy)

The largest ever congress of students Israeli-Palestinian will be held at Haifa University next Monday to discuss their views for a possible solution to end the conflict plaguing the region.

Some 100 Israeli and Palestinian university students and 50 Israeli and Palestinian high school students will negotiate trust-building measures at the Students House at University of Haifa.


That simulation will be held in cooperation with Minds of Peace. Students will either be enrolled at the university, at the Ort Binyamina high school, or at one of several schools throughout the West Bank.

The students all come from different backgrounds of study and collectively hold a plethora of political affiliations and views surrounding the conflict.

The congress of students is being coordinated by the Leon Charney Resolution Center, an innovative organization dedicated to both the history and the future of diplomacy, in conjunction with the University of Haifa and Minds of Peace, facilitated by Dr. Sapir Handelman, winner of the Peter Baker award in Peace and Conflict Studies.

The goal of the 150 member congress is to agree on and conclude talks regarding two viable agreements that have the potential end the Palestinian conflict by the end of the day - the second agreement having to relate to conclusive peace pact between the two sides.

Issues that will be discussed include the types of solution the students believe is most feasible to end the conflict, whether it be two-state, one-state, etc. - and each assembly chooses four topics they believe are most pertinent to discuss within the general conflict discussion.

Students are encouraged to refrain from discussing the origins of the conflict, but instead focus on fixing the problem at hand, regardless of how it started, the goal of this congress is to attempt to reconcile it.

The Charney Center also just recently facilitated a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians that was signed Thursday – at least in a simulation.

Ninety Israeli, Palestinian and 11th grade Eastern Mediterranean International Boarding School (EMIS) students from 21 countries – including Rwanda, Indonesia, Poland, Guatemala, Brazil, China, Vietnam, Armenia, America, Italy, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Hungary – participated on Wednesday and Thursday in marathon “peace talks” at HaKfar HaYarok, a youth village in located in southern Ramat HaSharon region.

The simulation was divided into two tracks. The first track was meant to establish negotiations to arrive at an agreement, while the second track helped the students explore and develop new ideas and principles, be creative and think out-of-the-box. Negotiations ran from 8:30 on Wednesday morning until 11 a.m. on Thursday, with small breaks.

The peace talk’s simulation is the culmination of an intensive course and workshop in peace mediation and conflict resolution that the students have taken over the past few months.

There were three negotiating tables and three different agreements.

This is the third year of what has become an annual program run by the Leon Charney Resolution Center, named for the late Leon Charney, a prominent lawyer, author, broadcaster and former adviser to, among others, President Jimmy Carter, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and President Ezer Weizman. Charney played an important role in the Camp David Peace Accords, which led to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The student negotiations are modeled after Charney’s methods, according to his wife Tzili Charney, who founded the center.

The Charney center runs simulations at regular intervals across the country, but the negotiations with EMIS are unique because students come from all over the world to live and study together. Dr. Sapir Handelman, who facilitated the simulation, said having the international school students around the table brings more creative ideas that the Israeli and Palestinians often cannot think of because they live the conflict every day.

Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.