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On a stifling July afternoon in Jaffa, I met with Yael Patir, the Israeli coordinator for the Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO Forum. The Peace NGO Forum is a community of 100 peace and dialogue non-governmental organizations that are registered and operating in cross-border cooperation.  The organizations are both Israeli and Palestinian, including joint organizations that have joint management.

The Forum was founded in 2006 with “the idea to coordinate and create synergy between all these different groups and individuals that are working in the peace building field, as well as create a whole which is greater than its parts and to see how and when and where we can cooperate as a group,” describes Yael. The goal has been to strengthen the impact and voice of these organizations and bring awareness on a regional and international level.

The 100 organizations belonging to the Forum are organized into three groups under the umbrella of the larger initiative of promoting peace and a viable, just solution to the conflict that takes all parties into account. The first subset is “groups that are working today on the ground against the wrongdoings of the occupation. These are human rights organizations, legal aid, advocacy groups. It can be Machsom Watch, that has volunteers stand at checkpoint and monitor the movement and help people with urgent needs and problems…[they] are trying to prevent the situation from becoming worse.”

“The second group is organizations that are promoting a political solution to the conflict. These are organizations that are either political movements, like Peace Now, and Geneva Initiatives, that are actually showing that there are agreements that we can reach,” says Yael. “Usually
all of these organizations work in Palestinian cooperation because it’s very important for both sides to show their constituency that there is a peace camp and there are people who want peace on the other side.” Read the rest of this entry »

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