Tel Aviv University students host mock peace talks
Mock peace proposal offers Arab recognition of Israel for a total withdrawal of all occupied lands.
A small group of students from Tel Aviv University Sunday hosted a mock regional peace summit based on the Arab Peace Initiative.
The 10 Israeli organizers say their project is the first large-scale grassroots discussion of the Arab peace proposal, which offers Arab recognition of Israel for a total withdrawal of all occupied lands and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees - a phrase taken by many to mean the settlement of Palestinians inside Israel proper. Jerusalem has so far rejected the deal.
The 5-day model Middle East Students Conference which started Sunday involves some 50 students from 16 different countries, including Lebanon, Bahrain, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, India and European countries. The participants are divided into five delegations - Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian and international - and will represent the interests of their assigned nation in peace negotiations.
The organizers, who brainstormed the project for six months as part of their fellowship with StandWithUs, a Los Angeles-based Israel advocacy group, negotiated with Israeli authorities to facilitate Arab students' entry into Israel. One of the organizers, Omer Pines, 29, told Haaretz that the army allowed in only three of the five Palestinian students.
Through partnership with the university and the Foreign Ministry, the conference organizers managed to raise a budget of NIS 25,000 - some of which will go toward taking the visiting delegates on a sight-seeing tour of Israel, according to the project's 22-year-old director, Shirah Bergman.
Participants will also hear lectures from former deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold, Prof. Eyal Zisser, crisis negotiator Moty Cristal and others.