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Introduction to the Project

Based on a triangular partnership – that dates back to 1988 - between “Orlando”, the Jerusalem Center for Women and Bat Shalom (the “Jerusalem Link”, JL constituted by this two centres), the overall objective of the project is “to contribute to creating a political climate more conducive to improving relations between the parties” through the direct and active involvement of civil societies organizations (CSOs) in the (re)construction of a pro-active political dialogue that “help create conditions conducive to re-launching the peace process”, and “provide a solid foundation for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” . Recalling the UNSC 1325 on the role of women in the negotiations related to peace making and peace keeping processes, we firmly believe that to involve women in conflict resolution is both a need and an important strategy for changes in the quality of life and in the socio-political situation. The project activities aimed at raising awareness in the communities on issues of mobilizing for peace, partnership in conflict transformation and in peace processes, “building the capacity within societies to transform and overcome the conflict”. The three partners addressed this overall objective by promoting initiatives related to the two areas of intervention :
• educating communities about concepts and skills for dealing with conflict and for promoting peace
• clarifying issues that will need to be settled in final status negotiations

The entire action has been built interpretating the political situation in Israel/Palestine at the time which was deeply affected by the failure of the Oslo Agreements and by the bloodshed experienced by both societies during this Second Intifada. As a side effect to all this, there was a general weakening of the parallel and joint work of Israeli and Palestinian CSOs that belong to what we can call “the peace camp”. In political context – represented by the newly elected Palestinian leadership and by the Israeli “unity” government – the two centres have expressed their need to sharpen their reciprocal political context, widening their own constituencies and activating more women and men – individually or as CSOs – around their political discourse, taking into consideration the latest political agenda which focuses on the upcoming disengagement plan. Supporting the JL activities has assured that the equality between the two people is the base on which to build a just and lasting peace in the area.

In three years the partnership has implemented several activities: Workshops, informal and formal political meetings addressing each own society and CSOs in order to discuss the key issues to be settled in the final status negotiations; Training on “conflict resolution partnership” that took place in Bologna for a group of twenty activists from both sides; Joint seminars in order to create channels of communication between the Israeli and Palestinian “peace activists” and to evaluate each others achievements with the three partners; Facilitation training; Promotion of communication activities that help conflict trasformation through knowing “the other” better, such as the production of: video and a book containing narratives, experiences and interviews.

Of course direct beneficiaries of the activities were the Palestinian and Israeli women actively involved in workshops and meetings. Among these, a group of nearly 30 women activists have participated in joint meetings hold in Italy.
As well the Palestinian and Israeli organizations partners have benefited from the strengthening of their outreach capacity and from their ability in sharpening the political context in a way that can lead to an enlargement of the peace groups on both sides.

Partnership involved:

Associazione Orlando, women association based in Bologna.
Among its activities, on international level Orlando is involved with the Women of Mediterranean East and South European Network in the implementation of the Palestinian Woman’s Plan.

Jerusalem Center for Women (JCW), palestinian women’s ONG based in East Jerusalem. It works on “people to people” activities for women’s empowerment in the Palestinian society. With Bat Shalom is part of the Jerusalem Link.

Bat Shalom, is a feminist organisation of Jewish and Palestinian women in Israel who work together for peace, respect of human rights and a conflict solution based on the end of the occupation and the realisation of equal rights for all citizens of Israel. It is based on the West Jerusalem.

Bat Shalom and The Jerusalem Centre for Women are part of Jerusalem Link, created 1994.
The two centres operate independently, maintaining executive and organisational integrity, but working in synergy toward a real peace. Their work has been based on a common “Declaration of Principles”, that calls for an end to occupation and the establishment of a sovereign viable Palestinian state in order to achieve a just and lasting peace while providing security for both nations.