Middle East
10:00 pm
Sun February 20, 2011

Fontbonne University hosts grassroots Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiation

Starting on Tuesday, Fontbonne University is hosting the “Minds of Peace Experiment.”

The three-day event brings together five Israelis and five Palestinians who now live in St. Louis, to try to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East.

The goal of the Minds of Peace project is to involve ordinary Israelis and Palestinians in working toward a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Project co-founder, Palestinian Mazen Badra, said small-scale negotiations like the one at Fontbonne help to build the understanding and trust needed to achieve peace.

“How often do you think, you know, the Palestinians and Israelis have an opportunity to meet one-on-one and have a discussion about their futures? At least now we give them an opportunity to meet on the human level,” Badra said.

Event co-founder Sapir Handelman – a native of Israel – says the ultimate goal of the project is to establish a major negotiating body in the Middle East, made up of both Palestinians and Israelis.

“The most important thing is the Minds of Peace is [creating] peace coalitions. And [it demonstrates] to everyone the complexity of the situation, and that the people on both sides want to end it,” Handelman said.

Handelman added that holding small-scale negotiations in the U. S. and other countries can help to build the international support needed to end the crisis.

The event at Fontbonne is open to the public, and the audience will have the opportunity to participate in the negotiating process.