Trip Blog - Day Five

September 11th, 2015

Editors Note: Randy Czarlinsky, AJC Houston Regional Director, is in Israel with Project Interchange’s delegation of diplomats and is blogging about the delegation’s experiences.

On their 5th day in Israel, and with the massive dust storm continuing to plague the country, AJC Project Interchange’s diplomatic seminar participants met with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators t during engaging, extended conversations in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

NASA image of the dust storm covering the Middle East

Providing his analysis of the mood on the Palestinian street, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, former Palestinian negotiator and current director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, said a slim majority of Palestinians support a two-state solution. In his research and surveys of Palestinians in the West Bank, Dr. Shikaki has found that young Palestinians show greater support for a one-state solution than a two-state solution.

Dr. Shikaki speaking with diplomatic participants: Simeon Stoilov, Consul General for the Republic of Bulgaria in Chicago, and Vincent Floreani, Consul General for France in Chicago

In his Ramallah office, our delegates met with a prominent Palestinian negotiators who is also a senior Palestinian government official, Nabil Shaath. Shaath, a member of the Central Committee of Fatah and its Commissioner of International Relations, discussed the Palestinian Authority’s focus on the international arena.

Participants meeting with Nabil Shaath in his Ramallah office

After the delegation traveled to Jerusalem from Ramallah, the diplomats met with Dr. Tal Becker, principal deputy legal advisor at the ministry of foreign affairs, and a member of the Israeli peace negotiations team. Dr. Becker provided us with a holistic view of the country, beyond issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He explained Israel’s need to focus on domestic issues in the coming years, such as the economy, religion vs. state, and military service.

With 20 years at the negotiating table, Dr. Becker told the diplomats that countries are not math problems with simple solutions. The session with Dr. Becker made a perfect end to the day – his thoughtful and insightful approach was well-received and much appreciated amongst the participants.

Tal Becker speaking with Sujiro Seam, Consul General of France in Houston, and Palan Mulonda, Ambassador to the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Washington, DC, about Israel's internal and external challenges

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Project Interchange.