NGO launches women's initiative for Israeli-Palestinian peace

IPF’s millennial-led network is called Atid and it is focused on mobilizing support for a viable two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Members of the IPF Atid WPS Working Group meet with representatives from Women Wage Peace in July in Tel Aviv-Yafo.   (photo credit: Courtesy)
Members of the IPF Atid WPS Working Group meet with representatives from Women Wage Peace in July in Tel Aviv-Yafo.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A new initiative to advance women’s involvement, expertise and leadership in Israeli-Palestinian peace-building has just been launched.
Women, Peace & Security (WPS), a new “channel” of the Israel Policy Forum’s (IPF) millennial division, kicked off over the summer in Los Angeles and is quickly expanding, with the aim of reaching New York, Washington, and Chicago in the coming months.
IPF’s millennial-led network is called Atid (Hebrew for future) and is focused on mobilizing support for a viable two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
The program was initiated by Rachel Wallace, a member of the IPF Atid Los Angeles steering committee, who is also chairing the initiative. She told The Jerusalem Post that WPS will work to “elevate women in leadership roles; deepen our relationship with relevant thought leaders and organizations; emphasize the value of all stakeholder participation; and advocate through op-eds and other related means for an increased focus on women, peace and security issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
IPF has been cognizant of trying to maintain gender equality since its founding, chairwoman Susie Gelman said.
Atid members, Gelman explained, felt strongly that the public face of women in the policy world needed enhancement.
“There are plenty of smart, capable women,” Gelman told the Post. “But, unfortunately, if you look at the number of women working for think tanks – or those who have policy portfolios in government or other entities - there is certainly room for improvement.”
She said that women bring their unique abilities to the negotiating table and this should be considered.
“Research suggests that when women are at the table, the results are more effective and long-lasting,” Wallace told the Post.
A recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations found that when women are at the negotiating table, peace is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years. Yet, as of 2015, research shows that women made up only 8% of negotiators in peace processes, an IPF release reported.
“What inspired this is the need to advance women and include them at the table,” Wallace said.
Efforts to establish the program started at a complicated time. Most polls show that Israelis do not feel they have a partner for peace nor do they believe that a two-state solution can be achieved in the current political climate. Yet last week, the US House of Representatives passed Resolution 326 supporting two-states and opposing unilateral annexation of West Bank territories by Israel. This was the first congressional measure to specifically point to annexation as a danger.
In a statement following the passing of the resolution, IPF said, “The resolution puts the House of Representative firmly on the record as supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict ... [and] as reaffirming the United State’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s security through ensuring robust security assistance, and acknowledging the necessarily of restoring assistance to the Palestinians.”
IPF urged the Senate to join the House.
The House resolution came less than one month after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new US policy on the Israeli settlements: America no longer considers settlements to be “inconsistent with international law.”
Gelman told the Post that “Pompeo’s announcement has already fanned the flames of annexation of the West Bank, as you know from the response from pro-annexation MKs in the wake of this about face in 40 years of US policy regarding the settlements.
“Israel Policy Forum was the first American Jewish organization to sound the alarm on annexation – almost two years now – as it would make any future separation between Israelis and Palestinians impossible and would be the death knell for the two-state solution,” she continued. “It seems fairly certain that if Israel were to begin annexing portions of the West Bank, this White House would not object, but it would cause serious divisions, if not a rupture, regarding bipartisan support of Israel as well as the Israel-diaspora relationship. Changing the status quo in this manner would be a threat to Israel’s secure, Jewish, and democratic future, and Pompeo’s reversal of US policy was ill-advised and decidedly not helpful to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Wallace said the WPS is working closely with the Israeli NGO Women Wage Peace and hope to recruit female Palestinian counterparts to sit around the table, too.
Additionally, she said she hopes that WPS will serve not only to increase Jewish women’s dialogue around the peace process but also these women’s involvement in Jewish community and Israel in general.
“We are excited to see how this new initiative can help advance the conversation for a more peaceful future,” said Atid national director Adam Basciano.