CONTRIBUTIONto the debate on the situation in the Middle East: the Israeli-Palestinian peace process
24 septembre 1996
by Mrs FLEETWOOD, Sweden, European Democratic Group
The Assembly first undertook to examine its contribution to the Middle East peace process in Rhodes in July 1995. Since then the situation has considerably changed. There have been Israeli and Palestinian elections. There have also been regrettable acts of violence in Israel and in southern Lebanon.
These events have held up our reacting to the Task Force on youth and education in the Middle East peace process that the Committee on Culture and Education organised in Tunis in February 1996. Reporting to the Assembly has been delayed. Since February, many of the persons with whom we were in contact have changed. We have not had the opportunity to up-date our first-hand appreciation of the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Some confirmation that the dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian young people can continue comes from the successful conference "On visions for a future in peace" organised in Sweden (Saltsjobaden) on 3-5 September 1996 for Israeli, Palestinian and Swedish young political leaders.
The summary of the Tunis Task Force on youth and education is appended. An attempt will be made here to evaluate the meeting and develop its main conclusions.
This Assembly exercise is being concentrated by the Political Affairs Committee in the first place on the Israeli-Palestinian dimension of the peace process. Consideration of youth and education should however also be seen in a wider context of developing understanding and cultural cooperation in the region. The meeting in Tunis was the first Assembly meeting in Tunisia and marked a step in the extension of cultural cooperation to Mediterranean non-member countries. A brief survey will therefore be attempted of such related activities.
B. TUNIS TASK FORCE (9-11 February 1996) AND FOLLOW UP
Proposals for youth and education in the Middle East peace process
(1) In terms of the Middle East peace process the Task Force succeeded in bringing together Israeli and Palestinian delegations in a constructive dialogue. We were impressed by the effort made on both sides to avoid controversy and concentrate on carrying cooperation forward.
(2) The need to assist the development of Israeli and Palestinian youth platforms was a clear priority to emerge from the meeting. The Palestinian Youth Association (PYA - with offices in both Gaza and Ramallah) appears to have made progress subsequently and is cooperating with the new Israeli Government Party as well as with the Labour Party. Lack of continuity in the persons involved can however impede understanding at international level.
(3) The Tunis meeting was of course mainly significant by the fact of high-lighting the importance of youth and education in the peace process. Young people in the area are the key to the future development of peace. This should be seen as a priority area. And it is also important that both Israeli and Palestinian authorities are reminded of this. Decisions taken for security reasons, such as the closure of Gaza, can have a very damaging effect on youth exchanges and education.
(4) The meeting indicated several areas in which the specific experience of the Council of Europe might be most relevant. The Council has been dealing with reconstruction of peace after the Second World War; with teaching human rights; with the removal of stereotypes from history teaching; with combating racism and xenophobia and promoting tolerance; with conflict resolution in the classroom; with intercultural coexistence in Bosnia-Herzegovina; with the development of education for democracy and the role of youth organisations in central and eastern Europe.
(5) The meeting showed however that the peace process is a matter of several different levels that it is helpful to distinguish:
The Tunis meeting drew attention to the very basic and important needs to be met on the Palestinian side. Educational, youth and sports facilities and infrastructures have to be built up; resources provided for teacher training; economic conditions improved; attention paid to the situation of young girls. This is where most bilateral activities are being planned (for example with Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Tunisia). Major research is being done to update Unesco's earlier reports on young people in the Palestinian area (PYA and Mr Waterman (BBC) for EU DG XXII).
In the youth field, the Palestinian Youth Association (PYA) is trying to develop youth organisations and cooperative youth work amongst the former Intifada youth.
There is international funding for the universities. The leading Palestinian university is Beir Zeit, located in the West Bank; until recently it was closed down; its archives are stored for safe-keeping in UNDP Jerusalem. The Gaza universities, including the Islamic University, are very limited in the courses they can provide.
With regard to schools, there is again a considerable difference between the situation in the West Bank and in Gaza, where there are only 3 cities and the rest of the population has lived as refugees since 1948. The need for teacher training and school materials (books etc) is chronic.
There is a strong case for facilitating youth mobility. With few exceptions, Palestinians have been isolated from the world and there is virtually no understanding of foreign languages outside universities. It is important therefore to invite Palestinians out of Gaza and the West Bank so that they can participate in the intercultural learning process.
Sport is of political interest to the Palestinian Authority, which has been trying to encourage national teams in different disciplines. Palestinians participated in the Atlanta Olympic Games. Bilateral contacts and exchanges could be developed with young people in Palestinian sports associations as has been successfully done with Israeli.
The media might become a key factor, but was argued in Tunis as being as yet too underdeveloped on the Palestinian side. To give it a low priority may however prove to be a mistake and planning must begin now for the rapid surge of communication once electricity and telephones are installed. This subject was explored in a major conference in Ifrane (Morocco) in April 1996 on "The information society: the Mediterranean challenge". Local radio is already available as a means of promoting contact between local people (phone-ins) and of acting as an informal ombuds-body.
Practical assistance is needed. Norway has set up a permanent representation in Gaza offering technical advice.
On the Israeli side the Middle East peace process is being integrated into formal and informal education and progress is being made in integrating Jews and Arabs (within Israel). The Government launched a coexistence programme "Face to face" at the Givat Haviva Peace University in 1995. Other examples recently mentioned in the press have been the Jewish Arab Association for the Child and Family (Friendship's Way) and the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (Peace Oasis).
But there are still too few contacts between the Israelis and Palestinians, much distrust and considerable disparities at the level of young people.
(5.3) Joint Israeli-Palestinian activities
The Tunis meeting paid considerable attention to the "On-line network for peace" run by Israeli and Palestinian youth organisations and international youth peace camps. This initiative should be supported in conjunction with the PYA.
Youth exchange schemes and joint youth camps are being promoted by youth organisations and the EU. They would be more effective if better supported by the Israelis. For example at a youth camp held in Gaza in July Israeli participants had to have permits, they could not stay overnight and a police escort was provided.
It would appear that the Qatar-funded youth camp (mentioned in Tunis) has been postponed for political reasons to 1997. The same is true of other camps planned by Fatah and the PYA (on the Palestinian side) and Young Labour and Mapam (on the Israeli), with ICYE assistance and EU "Youth for Europe" funding.
Suspicion continues at local and municipal levels on both sides.
One interesting proposal made in Tunis was to encourage activities and discussion on matters of constructive common interest (sport, music, heritage, the arts etc) rather than of political division. Mixed sports teams were suggested and experiments along these lines have been made in youth camps involving both Israelis and Palestinians.
Our attention has recently been drawn to joint Israeli and Palestinian projects in the field of research and education by the European Cooperation Foundation based in Tel Aviv. It has also been suggested that the Assembly Committee on Culture and Education should organise a colloquy on education in the area with experts from both sides.
(5.4) Activities involving Israelis and Palestinians outside the region
It would indeed appear that a neutral context can help break down communication barriers. This was true of the Tunis Task Force and also for the recent conference of young political leaders in Sweden.
(6) Monitoring. There is some confusion as to what is going on. The Tunis Task Force underlined the need for a body to monitor (follow) developments in the field of youth and education. It was agreed that the Committee on Culture and Education should provide a basis for such monitoring in cooperation with the youth organisations and the ministries concerned.
This idea of a monitoring group was considerably reinforced by the position paper submitted by CENYC and ECB subsequent to the Task Force meeting (see appendix).
In a first discussion of the Tunis Task Force on 7 March the Committee endorsed agreed to the idea of establishing a sub-committee to follow developments in the Mediterranean and Middle East as a cultural counterpart to the Political Affairs Sub-Committee on the Middle East. The Assembly Bureau agreed on 19 March to grant ad hoc status to this sub-committee for the moment. A more formal status will depend on how active and effective this body can become.
C. OTHER RELATED AREAS INVOLVING THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
— The Euro-Arab youth dialogue
This exercise is coordinated by the European Youth Centre together with the European youth platforms and aims at developing cooperation between European and Arab youth. It is not specifically related to the Mediterranean region. The aims and objectives were set at a first meeting in Tunis in March 1993. Guidelines for cooperation were drawn up at a Seminar on Euro-Arab Dialogue of Youth and Students held in Malta in April 1994. Subsequent activities have included a Seminar on the Middle-East peace process (Strasbourg, June-July 1995), a Women's Seminar (Beirut, July 1995) and a Euro-Arab training course for youth leaders (Budapest, November 1995).
The main current activity is preparation of a Symposium to be held in the European Youth Centre Budapest on 11-14 December 1996 on the "Euro-Arab youth dialogue for mutual understanding and cooperation". This is being prepared by representatives of the European and Arab youth platforms as well as the Governing Board of the EYCs and EYF and the North-South Centre (NSC - see following). The Parliamentary Assembly is also associated (largely through its Committee on Culture and Education).
Future activities in the dialogue could include
- study visits to the European institutions and Arab League
- documentation and information centre in Cairo
- Euro-Arab youth centre in Malta
- interparliamentary round tables
- ministerial conference
- seminars and training courses.
— Youth and Trans-Med programmes of the Council of Europe's European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre, Lisbon)
The Youth Programme has been involved in the Tunis Task Force on youth and education and in the above Euro-Arab youth dialogue. It was launched at a colloquy on the role of young people in global interdependence (Faro, June 95). Relevant activities include a seminar on Maghreb youth cooperation (Mollina, 1995) and a seminar on youth leadership in the Middle-East (Ramallah, 3-6 October 1997).
The Trans-Med Programme, which concentrates on communication, intercultural dialogue, immigration and human rights in the Mediterranean area, has been associated with the various Assembly Task Force meetings relating to the Middle East peace process on account of its regional relevance.
It should be recalled that the activities of the NSC are based on a Partial Agreement of 1989 (15 member countries and with an application currently being submitted from Tunisia), directed by an Executive Council of which the president is Mr Martinez. The Assembly has been involved (initially through its Committee on Economic Affairs and Development). Governments, local authorities and non-governmental organisations are also associated.
— Young parliamentarians and political leaders
The Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport (Committee on Culture and Education) has for some time been interested in promoting dialogue and training for young parliamentarians and political leaders alongside the work of the EYC for youth organisations (see Order 454 of 1990). It has therefore supported the Greek Parliament proposal to organise in Rhodes a Conference for young parliamentarians of the Eastern Mediterranean Region. The International Institute for Democracy is associated and it is hoped that support will also come from the European Union MEDA Democracy programme. Because of elections in Greece in Spetember the Conference has had to be postponed from the original dates in October 1996.
The Committee on Culture and Education has associated itself with moves for religious tolerance. We have investigated the interaction of Israeli and Islamic tradition on Christian. In such reports as that on religious tolerance presented in 1993 by Mrs Leni Fischer (Doc 6732) and in my own work in Sweden in the Children of Abraham Foundation for Religious and Cultural Coexistence (Abrahams Barn) we have tried to tackle the practical problems of the relationship between the state, religion and the individual.
In June 1995 the Swedish Institute organised in Stockholm a conference on relations between European and Islamic cultures and on the position of Muslims in Europe. It was attended by the Council of Europe and the European Commission.
The European Union is indeed well aware of this dimension: the European Parliament has followed our work on Islam and the European Commission organised a seminar on the three monotheistic religions (Toledo, November 1995). This may prove an area in which we can develop cooperation.
The Committee on Culture and Education would like to press further with examination of religious education. Other committees might pursue other aspects of the question of the separation of state and religion: in particular the political and social dimensions.
In this present context we can recall the controversy that surrounds reference to the Sharia in the Basic Law for the Palestinian Interim Self-government Authority. This is a subject to take up with our Turkish and Bosnian colleagues as well as with those from states with a less close association with the Council of Europe.
— Education and teacher training
Several of the programmes currently run by the Council of Europe's Directorate for Education, Culture and Sport could be directly applied to the problems of the Middle East: education for democracy, education for human rights, teacher training schemes, conflict resolution etc.
At present the priority focus of these activities is on central and eastern Europe and there is some reluctance to extend them to the Middle East: see the rather negative reply given in 1995 by the Committee of Ministers to Assembly Recommendation 1249 (1994) on cooperation in the Mediterranean basin (Doc 7264).
— Other areas
There are many other areas in which the Council of Europe's intergovernmental experience could be applied to increased cultural cooperation with Mediterranean non-member countries.
In the cultural heritage sector there is much common interest. The Assembly would recall its interest in cooperation in sea or part-sea cooperation with regard to the underwater cultural heritage (Rec 848): a recent example is the Franco-Egyptian exercise to recuperate the Pharos of Alexandria. The archaeology programme of the CDCC's Cultural Heritage Committee includes Tunisia. The historic sites of Lebanon (especially Tyre) and of Israel (notably Jerusalem) have direct European relevance. A number of cultural itineraries involve the North African coast (Culture de Mari, Phoenicians, al Andalus, Voyages of St Paul etc)
Similar scenarios could be developed for the arts, for the media and for sport.
As said in the previous section, it is a matter of priorities. Unfortunately the fact that the European Union has greater funding at its disposal has meant that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is rather reticent about extending cooperation with Mediterranean non-Member countries.
D. ACTION BY OTHER BODIES
— European Union
Relevant activities are run by DG XXII "Youth for Europe" and DG IA "Euro-Mediterranean Partnership". The "European Voluntary Service Initiative" has also been mentioned in connection with funding voluntary service by young people in the Israeli-Palestinian context.
The general development of European Union cooperation with non-member countries and in particular with Mediterranean non-member countries has been described in Sir Russell Johnston's recent report on European cultural cooperation (Doc 7575).
With specific regard to the Middle East peace process, it can be recalled that some 300 million ECUs were earmarked by the European Union for projects in the Palestinian territories 1987-1995. The West Bank and Gaza have been associated with the New Mediterranean Policy since July 1994 (PEACE-URBS/CAMPUS and MEDIA). Mediterranean Association Agreements are currently being negotiated with these and other countries in the region.
The comprehensive "Euro-Mediterranean Partnership", endorsed by the Barcelona conference in November 1995, has finally had its budget unfrozen (mid July 1996) of some 700 MECUs in 1996. Only part of this is for cultural sector, but it should be recalled that the agreement covers "partnership in social, cultural and human affairs", that is (a) developing human resources and (b) promoting understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies, this in such fields as religions, media, youth (Euro-Mediterranean youth exchange programmes) and exchanges (sport, academics etc).
In the youth sector the most recent activity has been the Conference on the role of youth exchanges between the European Union and the Mediterranean countries (Amman, 1-4 July 1996). This conference was organised by the Mediterranean University Network (UNI-MED based in Rome) and EU DG XXII. The Council of Europe was only indirectly involved through the participation of a staff member as a consultant. No results are yet available.
Unesco has a Mediterranean Programme. This is described as a network of networks including some 600 organisations, centres, universities, municipalities and NGOs. The main aims are to bring about a culture of peace and promote cross-cultural activities.
The Tunis Task Force showed how important it is to give priority to youth and education in the Middle East peace process. This has been confirmed by the recent conference in Sweden involving young Israelis and Palestinians. Though the most immediate and pressing problems are clearly political and economic, it is in such fields as education and youth that the medium and long-term solutions lie.
This is however an area of considerable bilateral and multilateral activity. There is a need for clearer and more regularly updated information on what is going on. The Assembly (Committee on Culture and Education) should help monitor this activity. Regular contact should be established with those more directly involved.
A question arises over how far the Council of Europe's governmental sector might contribute. Though its resources are already over-extended in central and eastern Europe and minimal in comparison with those being made available through the European Union MEDA programme, the experience of the Council of Europe is very relevant to the area. Because of the co-management principle, the European youth platforms have been able to involve the EYCs and Youth Directorate. The Committee of Ministers should give consideration to a more general commitment.
The central point of the current debate on the Middle East peace process is however the relationship between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries. For the sectors of youth and education to develop, as they must for the future democratic security of the area, it is essential that Israel also makes its contribution and enables Palestinian young people to catch up.
Committee on culture and Education
Ad Hoc Sub-Committee
Task Force on youth and education
in the Middle East Peace Process
Tunis 9-11 February 1996
A - Background
B - Outline programme
C - Summary
1. Opening and introductory statements
2. General discussion
4. Culture and youth
6. Israeli-Palestinian Youth On-line proposal Network for Peace
7. Discussion of concrete proposals
8. Concluding session
E - Documents
F - List of participants
A - BACKGROUND
Following Assembly Resolution 1013 (1993) on the peace process in the Middle East, a meeting was held in Rhodes in July 1995 which proposed the setting up of five Task Forces on:
- economic development and reconstruction
- human rights and, in particular, the judiciary and penitentiary systems
- elections and the building of democratic institutions after elections
- youth and education
- local democracy.
Each Task Force was to be composed of parliamentarians, representatives of governments, other partners of the North-South Centre, and Israeli and Palestinian representatives. The objective of each was to discuss and define specific proposals to be presented in an Assembly debate on the peace progress to be held in the course of 1996. The North-South Centre might then be involved in further follow-up action.
By decision of the Assembly Bureau, the Committee on Culture and Education was entrusted with the organisation of the Task Force on youth and education.
B - OUTLINE PROGRAMME
Thursday 8 February
— Arrival of participants
Friday 9 February
— Working sessions 9am to 12 noon and 2pm to 5pm
— Evening dinner offered for all participants by Sir Russell Johnston
Saturday 10 February (visits and informal contacts)
- El Menzah VI Youth Centre for culture and sports
- Youth Information Centre (Ministry of Youth and Childhood)
- Bardo Museum (Tunis)
- site and museum of Carthage
- evening concert given by a group from Aleppo (Syria) with Adib Dayekh
Sunday 11 February
— Working session 9am to 12.30pm
The meetings took place in the Hotel Sidi Bou Saïd
(tel: (216) 1-740 411; fax: (216) 1-745 129).
C - SUMMARY
1. Opening and introductory statements
The meeting was opened on Friday 9 February with Sir Russell Johnston (MP, UK) in the chair.
Mr Ghariani (Permanent Secretary of Youth and Education, Tunisia) welcomed participants [full text available in French]. Tunisia shared the values of democracy, human rights, solidarity and tolerance that the Council of Europe sought to promote. The subjects of youth and education were priority areas for the Tunisian Government. President Ben Ali had taken steps to establish a dialogue with young people over the future of the country. In the education system stress was being placed on civic responsibilities.
Tunisia welcomed the support of the Council of Europe for the Middle East peace process that was in the interest of the whole region. In his end of year speech the President had hoped that the Israeli-Palestinian agreement would be extended to Jordan, Syria and the Lebanon.
The present meeting was a starting point for constructive cooperation between Tunisia and the Council of Europe in the new Euro-Mediterranean dimension of peace and stability, and of tolerance, solidarity and interdependence.
Sir Russell Johnston thanked the Tunisian Government for agreeing to being involved in the series of Task Force meetings organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the Middle East peace process. At the meeting in Rhodes in July 1995, Tunis and Jericho had been identified as appropriate locations to balance the meetings that were being held in Western Europe.
This was the first occasion for an Assembly committee to meet in Tunisia. It was significant that it should involve the Cultural Committee which had been for several years pursuing links between Europe and other shores of the Mediterranean with its reports on Islamic civilisation and religious tolerance as well as its support for the inclusion of Israel in European cultural cooperation. He regretted the absence of the committee's rapporteurs on these subjects: Mr de Puig, involved in election campaigns in Spain, and Mrs Fischer, now President of the Assembly. He looked forward to further opportunities for contacts with Tunisian culture.
Turning to the subject of the present meeting, he welcomed the Palestinian and Israeli delegations as well as the experts and youth representatives invited by the North South Centre. He recalled the objective: to develop concrete proposals for projects as well as to find the partners to implement them.
Presentation of the situation by the Palestinian and Israeli representatives would be followed by general unstructured discussion of needs and priorities in the fields of youth and education. After a day for informal contacts, the Task Force would reconvene on Sunday to identify practical proposals. The timing of the meeting had been arranged to respect the religious traditions of the main parties involved (Israeli, Palestinian and Tunisian).
He hoped that discussion would go beyond bilateral arrangements between Israelis and Palestinians. The plus value of Assembly involvement was the multilateral context it provided for discussion of the Middle East peace process as well as for the involvement of Palestinians and Israelis in wider multilateral cooperation on subjects of common concern, such as the importance of education for human rights or the role of youth organisations in promoting pluralistic democracy.
A Tour de table followed in which all participants introduced themselves.
Mr Jilani (Ministry of Youth and Sport, Palestinian Authority) thanked the Tunisian authorities for the support they had given to the PLO leadership in exile [full text available in English]. The Palestinian elections in January marked a key step in the democratic process towards the setting up of an independent state. Young people were a majority of Palestinians. They had high expectations to which the Palestinian National Authority had to respond. Young people had a natural role to play in cultural life (art, sport etc) and in reinforcing tolerance, teamwork and leisure activities.
These areas had been overlooked in the period of occupation. Facilities did not exist. Young people were lost and insecure.
The Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Palestinian Authority, set up only 2 years ago, faced a difficult task with a limited budget. The infrastructures were totally missing (both in-school and out-of-school). The budget was also limited. A priority aim was to set up a working partnership with the Ministries of Education and Culture, the NGO's working in the field of youth and the international NGO's such as UNICEF and the UNDP Women's programme. School premises were being used on a dual shift basis. The business community was also being approached.
On the political level, IFES (the American based International Foundation for Electoral Systems) had arranged courses on democracy and electoral education for young people in the run up to the January elections. These had proved enormously popular and would continue. Other areas of youth activity were summer camps: in 1995 some 10,000 young people and 500 youth leaders were involved in co-operation with UNICEF; a major camp was being planned in Gaza for August 1996. Some 18,000 young people were active in the scout and guide movement.
Factors that militated against the peace process were the economic conditions (up to 58% unemployment in certain areas), poverty, restrictions on mobility (closure of academic institutions during the Intifada etc).
He concluded with an appeal to Europe as well as to Israel to help develop a feeling of trust and confidence in the area and to invest in its future.
Mr Katz (MP, Israel) thanked the Tunisian authorities for hosting the task force meeting despite the difficulties of Ramadan. He congratulated the Palestinians on their recent democratic elections.
The aim of the task force meetings was to talk about practical confidence building measures and he supported this approach. In the first place it was necessary for young Palestinians and Israelis, who had grown up as enemies, to learn to be friends. The Middle East Peace Process had to be integrated into the formal and informal education systems. He referred to a booklet on education for democracy that had been developed for the integration of Jews from the former USSR. Action by governmental and non-governmental bodies should be coordinated: he mentioned Beit Hagefen in Haifa. There was no room for a patronising approach and both sides could learn from their mistakes in the process of integrating Jews and Arabs. He noted a more positive approach to the peace process from young Israelis following the murder of Yitsak Rabin; he also welcomed the recent TV image of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian policemen (former Intifada activists) drinking coffee during a joint patrol.
Sir Russell Johnston welcomed the constructive initial statements made by both sides.
2. General discussion
Sir Russell Johnston proposed that discussion proceeded first on a general level with a view to the identification of perceived needs and prorities in the fields of youth and education.
Mr Katz sought information on the development of youth movements on the Palestinian side. How was the Middle East Peace Process being integrated into education and daily life?
Mr Jilani recalled the prominent role played by political youth organisations in the PLO. The development of structures for other youth activities was now a priority for the Ministry of Youth and had been discussed with visiting delegations, including a delegation from the North South Centre. Successful projects in human rights and peace education had been launched with local communities.
A major problem was the lack of infrastructures to enable Palestinians to return invitations for exchanges with the Israelis. The Israelis were also reluctant to send young people to the Palestinian areas. In the West Bank area 70% of Palestinians were in rural communities; in the Gaza strip 70% were in refugee camps. Hospitality was difficult in such conditions.
Another problem was the formal education curriculum imposed on the Palestinians during the Israeli occupation and which prevented any expression of national identity.
Mr Shu'aibi (Ministry of Education, Palestinian Authority) stressed basic educational needs. There were classes of 60 students; a new curriculum was needed designed for Palestinians (as opposed to Egyptians or Jordanians); teacher training was urgent; educational materials were lacking.
Sir Russell Johnston noted educational facilities as a priority. The Council of Europe was not a development agency but could encourage other bodies such as the European Union to intervene.
Mr Belhassen (Ministry of Youth, Tunisia) had served as an expert in Unesco and suggested a development programme based on making young people responsible for return to peace in the region. He submitted a paper [available in French] that went from sociological research to legislation reform, voluntary youth associations and information centres.
Mr Kollwelter (MP, Luxembourg) noted that there was no representation of young people independent of government in the task force. He asked how much young people were really interested in collaborating with young people "on the other side".
He next drew attention to the example of the Franco-German Youth Office following World War II. This had needed considerable resources.
Mutual respect also needed grass-root contacts.
Sir Russell Johnston agreed that if the Israeli and Palestinian leadership had resolved the struggle at their level, it had still to seep downwards to the ordinary people.
Mrs Fleetwood (MP, Sweden) agreed that future peace depended on understanding now between young people. She looked for practical measures to integrate cooperation networks. People had to have the chance of getting to know each other directly. Youth and sport activities were ideal fields for this.
Mrs Verspaget (MP, Netherlands) believed the key question was how to set up an effective education system for the Palestinian young people on which they could hope to build a good future life. This was not the same thing as networking contacts between youth organisations in the area.
Mr Khraishi (General Union of Palestinian Students and Palestinian Council) described the development of the Palestinian Youth Association (PYA) and its early contacts with the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) and with socialist parties in European countries and in Israel. It was hoped to broaden these contacts in particular to the Israeli opposition. The aim was to change the culture of Intifada to a culture of coexistence and cooperation.
Current projects included "The Israeli-Palestinian Youth On-Line Network for Peace" run jointly by Israeli and Palestinian youth organisations. Another initiative was an "International Youth Peace Camp" to be held in Gaza in August 1996: participants should include young people from the Arab world, from Europe, from Israel and from the Palestinian diaspora as well as Gaza and West Bank.
There were practical difficulties for young people to make contact between Gaza and the West Bank areas, as travel depended on Israeli permits and check-points were unreliable. Palestinian students from Gaza studying in the West Bank suffered most.
Mr Sandberg (MP, Israel) spoke from the opposition side. He contrasted the peace process with Jordan (which was a natural process of trust) with the peace process with the Palestinians (which raised fears for security and Islamic fundamentalist groups that were shown regularly on TV).
He personally encouraged the development of understanding between young people on both sides. The best way to achieve this was by personal contacts and discussion on matters of common interest rather than of political division. He was himself a Beatles fan and in Haifa there were Jewish and Arab bands that played together. Sport was another area of cooperation.
It was important that Israelis and Palestinians saw themselves as human beings.
Mr Bal (European Coordination Bureau -ECB) had been closely involved over the past two years in projects for democratic cooperation in Israel and the Middle East. He confirmed that non-political youth organisations were involved as well as political organisations.
Mr Härstedt (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden) had paid several recent visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories. He had been disappointed by the low number of women elected to the Palestinian National Council and suggested that the place of women in the area called for special promotion.
Mrs Fleetwood wondered about the situation of young girls.
Sir Russell Johnston recalled recent Prime-Ministers in Israel and the UK. With due respect, he was not convinced that women in politics were necessarily conducive to peace.
Mr Katz was less concerned with the place of women in politics than in their equal status in the market place. Their participation was indicative in general of the openness of society, and especially in the Middle East. It was not however a guarantee for peace.
Mr Moncef (Ministry of Culture, Tunisia) observed that it took time and patience to substitute a culture of war by a culture of peace. This had been the task of the Council of Europe after the Second World War. Much was made of the differences, yet more attention might be paid, for example in schools, to the common elements in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and to the importance of an intercultural approach. The arts were another area of cooperation, but he also drew attention to the desperate needs on the Palestinian side of resources for the training of artists.
Sir Russell Johnston noted that xenophobia still continued in Europe and war in Bosnia. People of good will on all sides had to work together, but they should have no illusions as to the difficulty of their task.
Mr Jilani welcomed the first opportunity he had had to discuss the Middle East Peace Process with the Israeli opposition. He confessed himself to a feeling of unease when alone in Israeli quarters of Jerusalem and could understand that Israelis might feel the same in Ramallah. It was important that the stereotyped images on both sides were broken down. This could only be done through greater personal contacts. He hoped that these would be helped by the networks and summer camps being organised by the PYA.
He was concerned however at the lack of information flow. A great number of delegations had visited the area, but information was not being circulated.
He was also disappointed at the lack of response from donor countries for the youth and education sectors. He hoped that the Council of Europe would be able to ensure a higher priority was in future placed on these areas and for activities encouraging the participation of young people in the Middle East Peace Process.
Mr Curiel (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel) fully supported the requests made by the PNA for all kinds of assistance. Israel saw the establishment of a secure democratic Palestinian society as being in its own long-term interests. For this reason it had taken the initiative of setting up the donor club and wished to legitimise the Middle East Peace Process.
On the question of information, he suggested the setting up of a data base for youth related questions. International support was however necessary as suspicion still remained between the two societies.
Sir Russell Johnston wished next to concentrate on education. He read out that part of the 1995 Interim Agreement relating to cultural and educational cooperation and the people to people programme (pp 309-310). He also drew attention to two publications, "DOmino" (on peer group education) and the Education Pack (on intercultural education) that had resulted from the Council of Europe's recent campaign against racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and intolerance. Was education seen to be a priority area in the Middle East Peace Process?
Mr Sandberg said that the process of Jewish-Arab cooperation in education was only in its early stages. At the Givat Haviva Kibbutz seminars took place with students from high schools on both sides. There were problems in finding funding from the Israeli side. To extend Jewish-Arab cooperation within Israel to Jewish-Palestinian cooperation was quite another step.
Mr Shu'aibi regretted that Israel-PNA cooperation in the field of education and youth had not progressed as fast as that regarding water and agriculture.
Mr Katz pointed out that the peace process was itself built into the formal education system in Israel. All schools discussed it together with parliamentarians from all parties. Informal educational activities were also encouraged by the Ministry of Education, though certain local municipalities were occasionally less enthusiastic.
Mr Curiel added that the Ministry of Education in Israel had set up with European Union assistance a "Peace Wall" project. It had also created a special Department for education in democracy and coexistence. He hoped that the European Union would now help adapt this package to the PNA.
Mr Jilani noted the good cooperation in the fields of health and agriculture. The PNA Ministry of Youth and Sport was co-operating with Israel over a training centre in Givat Haviva. There was also a project to transform a prison into a youth centre. There were youth exchanges at different levels, but they were not well-structured and were not followed-up. Exchanges between academics at university level were on a person to person basis and not yet structured.
The main problems with formal education were the poor conditions: overcrowding, lack of trained teachers and educational materials. Exchanges were not seen as a priority in such circumstances. A specific need was training of teachers in human rights and peace education.
As the teaching establishment was very resistant to changes, he felt it was almost more important to concentrate on extra-curricular activities (youth organisations etc).
Mrs Verspaget recalled the Council of Europe's activities on tolerance and on history learning. She proposed to table a motion on the introduction of human rights and peace education in the school curriculum throughout Europe.
Sir Russell Johnston observed that care had to be taken when making statements about history in the proximity of Carthage. It became even more difficult when one proceeded eastwards to Cyprus, Israel and Palestine.
Mr Khraishi agreed with the distinction made by Mr Sandberg as to the difference between the peace process with the Jordanians and with the Palestinians. He believed this underlined the need for major efforts in peace education on both sides in the latter context. He suggested that the Institute for Human Rights in Strasbourg gave seminars on the details of human rights legislation and on conflict resolution for Israeli and Palestinian students.
Sir Russell Johnston suggested that the Committee on Culture and Education might well continue its work on religious tolerance by giving consideration to religious education in a democracy and the separation of the affairs of church and state. This could be of direct relevance to the Middle East Peace Process.
Mr Sandberg regretted that certain youth meetings had experienced local opposition. This was due to unconnected political circumstances. University cooperation existed and would he hoped be developed in fields of common concern such as water management. The important thing was to use the opoortunity of the peace process to make a new start.
He suggested that the Council of Europe made available to the Middle East Peace Process the experience it had gained from assisting the development of education for democracy in central and eastern Europe.
Mrs Dibo (UNICEF) agreed [with Mr Kollwelter] that it was very important for young people to meet together. The problem was what subject to choose. Her experience in the Lebanon had shown that peace was on its own too vague and empty a concept. Young people in the Middle East today were suffering from a loss of identity. They needed ideas such as human rights on which to focus their efforts.
4. Culture and youth
Sir Russell Johnston recalled Mr Sandberg's references to the Beatles and sport. He asked what place was there in the Middle East Peace Process for culture and sport. He wondered if there was an interest in a joint consultative meeting in Ramallah on sports legislation with representatives of the Assembly and the Steering Committee for the Development of Sport. The formula had proved successful in central and eastern Europe.
Mr Curiel referred to the annex in the Interim Agreement dealing with Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. A Standing Committee was set up to monitor the implementation of bilateral cooperation. In addition the European Union had established a series of Mediterranean programmes. The Council of Europe should consider what its own unique contribution might be.
Mr Andrade (Council of European National Youth Committees) drew attention to the Euro-Arab Dialogue of Youth and Students that the Council of Europe Youth Directorate had developed from 1993 together with a number of international umbrella youth organisations.
Mr Amihoud (Ambassador, Israel) suggested that the Council of Europe concentrated on activities with a multiplier effect on the operational level, such as training courses for leaders of grass-roots youth groups. National youth organisations should coordinate activities with Palestinian and Israeli representatives.
Ms Mitter (Youth Directorate, Council of Europe) agreed that the Council of Europe could intervene either locally in the region or through courses organised elsewhere, for example in the European Youth Centres in Strasbourg or Budapest. The formulae used could be based on experience gained through training courses in central and eastern Europe. These aimed to promote cooperation between youth organisations and between youth and governmental representatives with a view to developing pluralistic democratic youth structures, intercultural dialogue and an exchange of educational eorking methods used in youth work.
Mr Rookmaaker (TransMed youth representative, North South Centre) believed that the chaos and lack of continuity in youth activities in the Palestinian territories should be resolved through better cooperation between international non-governmental youth organisations and local Palestinian organisations. Some structure might be provided by the setting up of a Palestinian National Youth Council.
He distinguished the bilateral activities, in which Europe was not involved unless specifically asked, from multilateral training programmes. These could be run locally from a European Youth Centre set up in the area or on the basis of a pool of trainers. He also mentioned a successful Euro-Arab training course that had been run in the European Youth Centre in Budapest.
Mrs Szatan (World Refugee Children) had been involved in grass-roots work for nearly ten years. The real problems were in the local material conditions, the lack of trained teachers etc. She had worked with groups of local women not youth organisations.
Mr Amihoud believed that Europeans should not wait to be asked but should take the initiative as catalysts. He suggested that the confusion and lack of continuity in youth work might be corrected by the setting up of a tripartite monitoring body composed of European, Israeli and Palestinian youth organisations.
Sir Russell Johnston pointed out that this would have to be acceptable to both parties.
Mr Jilani agreed on the need for such a continuous monitoring body. It and other proposals that could be seen as a package of peace initiatives, would be examined following the present meeting. The Palestinian Ministry of Youth would be prepared to support initiatives that brought youth organisations together in situations without security fears such as cooperation between the Palestinan and Israeli border villages of Kalkilia and Kfar Saba.
Mr Sandberg said that the two places mentioned were only 5 minutes apart. A centre could be established in each and joint activities organised. These could include sports activities. Mixed Israeli-Arab football teams had proved a successful experiment elsewhere in Israel.
Mr Curiel was more interested in mechanisms for cooperation than in any single building. Resources should be put into activities.
Mrs Verspaget as other speakers wished to distinguish bilateral activities involving the Israelis and Palestinians from other activities in which Europe might help.
Mr Amihoud asked for lists of what the Council of Europe had done for central and eastern Europe in order to examine how this might be transferred to the Middle East.
Mrs Verspaget mentioned multilateral work on the situation of Roma and Gypsies.
Sir Russell Johnston circulated a summary of the Council of Europe cooperation and assistance programmes to central and eastern Europe. It covered all aspects of civil society. But the situations were different. In central and eastern Europe it was a matter of assisting countries in the change from totalitarian régimes to democracy; in the Middle East it was more a matter of helping contacts and confidence building between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Mrs Dibo referred to Unicef's education for peace programme in the Lebanon. It was necessary to give "peace" some substance and young people a role in society by active participation as part of the learning process. Work development camps had been particularly successful in mixing together young people from Christian and Muslim sides and involving them in practical cooperation projects in local village situations. The act of physically constructing something together was a powerful image on the young people and on the villagers.
Mrs Benaboud (North South Centre, Council of Europe) doubted if the education programmes the Council of Europe had developed for central and eastern Europe were transferable. What was needed was to improve the situation of young people in the Palestinian territories and to encourage intercultural dialogue.
Sir Russell Johnston asked for comments on the situation of the mass media. He recalled the role the media had played in creating and orchestrating hatred in the conflict in former Yugoslavia.
Mr Khraishi said that the On-line Network for Peace Project would use Internet, fax and telephone. The Ministry for Education had agreed on the setting up of a youth radio but Israeli agreement was necessary to obtain a frequency. Language was an obstacle to the exchange of programmes.
Mrs Verspaget had recently observed how TV programmes produced jointly by black and white journalists had significantly influenced public attitudes at the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Mr Sandberg did not believe there to be any fundamental problem in the allocation of frequencies. The mass media was indeed a powerful tool for changing mentalities as it brought the world and world culture (European and American) into the villages and into the home. It also established a common youth culture (in music, film and sport). While there were already two Israeli TV channels and cable TV, Palestinian TV was only just starting. The media could in due course however become another way of establishing wider common ground.
Mr Jilani pointed out that many Palestinian villages had still to receive electricity. There was still a great distance to be covered before the media could be used as a positive element in the Middle East Peace Process. For the moment they perpetuated political stereotypes. The economy was still dominated by Israel.
Mr Curiel believed that the Israeli press was typical of most democracies, with its flaws and virtues. Media was he pointed out one of the areas covered by the European Union's Mediterranean projects.
Mrs Dibo put forward the example of a weekly annex written by young people in one of the Lebanon dailies. This was now 14 pages long and discussed political as well as non political issues.
Mr Sandberg added the possibility of newspapers produced by school children. He did not however want to force the press and media to support the peace process as he respected the independence of journalists.
Mr Shu'aibi said that the Palestinians wanted bread not chocolate. They lacked schools and they lacked TV.
6. Israeli-Palestinian Youth On-Line Network for Peace
Sir Russell Johnston next proposed to examine point by point the 16 aims of the proposed Israeli-Palestinian Youth On-Line Network for Peace [see below, in section D.].
Mr Katz believed the initiative to be positive. It was so far only backed by the left-wing parties in Israel and he hoped that it would in due course win wider support. It was a way in which young people could get to know each other better. It was important however to involve the cultural centres of the municipalities, as that was where the money was to be found.
Mr Curiel said that the issue of Hertzian frequencies was covered by the Interim Agreement (4). He had no clear knowledge as to the present situation, but was certain that whatever was decided in the framework of the Agreement would be implemented.
Mr Khraishi explained that the shadow "Echo" negotiations (6) covered such sensitive issues as Jerusalem, borders, security, water, refugees, settlements.
Sir Russell Johnston noted that the Council of Europe could not be involved in monitoring violations (7) or campaigns (8). It was however interested in the democratic development of young political leadership and might assist in the setting up of a balanced group of Palestinians and Israelis to carry out these tasks.
Mrs Fleetwood stressed promotion of the role of young women (9).
Mr Dysvik (European Youth, Norway) supported the promotion of young women as it was practical (he compared the loans to women in Bangladesh) rather than because they were any more peaceful.
Mr Andrade underlined the experience of international youth organisations in facilitating youth exchange programmes. It was important that these were carried on outside the territories directly involved (10). They led directly to the exchange of information and intercultural dialogue and had had a positive influence in Northern Ireland.
Sir Russell Johnston suspected that research (12) was chocolate rather than bread. Mrs Verspaget asked if it was carried out inside or outside the area. Mr Khraishi explained that this was a European Union project (DG XXII) to identify where to concentrate activities for example in view of unemployment patterns.
Sir Russell Johnston had already referred to European material relevant to conflict resolution and tolerance (13 and 14). It was important that the grass-roots were also motivated.
Mr Klein (North South Centre, Council of Europe) believed that young people should contribute in a structured policy of cooperation (11 and 16). He referred to the conference the North South Centre organised in Portugal in 1995 on the role of young people in north-south interdependence.
With regard to Mediterranean youth networks (16), Mr Rookmaaker recalled the Euro-Arab Dialogue of Youth and Students. In this framework seminars including young people from the Middle East had already been organised in Malta, Strasbourg, Beirut and Budapest. There would be a large conference at the end of 1996. The North South Centre was also involved in several projects with the Middle East.
Mr Härstadt believed that much more was going on in direct cooperation with the Palestinians than between Palestinians and Israelis or in multilateral cooperation.
Mr Jilani confirmed that his delegation was carrying out bilateral talks with the Tunisian authorities.
His main request to the Council of Europe Member States and to the Assembly MPs was to lobby for youth and education as a priority in the Middle East Peace Process and for the Palestinian Authority. Most international funding was going into practical areas, but more attention could also be paid to education and youth. For example the money spent on unemployed people painting walls in Gaza could have been spent on their building schools.
Mr Rookmaaker insisted on chocolate as well as bread. It was wrong to concentrate entirely on investment in roads and sewage and ignore civil society.
Mr Curiel took the same view. In Barcelona the European Union had proposed vocational training and the development of universities. Israel had added training in the new technologies (computers etc). These were not basic essentials, but were important for the future development.
Mr Sandberg stressed the importance of democracy which was the seed of peace in the area. He looked to the Council of Europe for support for democracy.
In conclusion Mr Khraishi appealed for wider support for the On-Line Network for Peace project. On the Palestinian side all parties were behind it; he hoped that the Israeli opposition parties would find it possible to cooperate.
7. Discussion of concrete proposals
Sir Russell Johnston recalled that the aim of the Assembly in organising the series of Task Forces was: (a) in general to enable the Israeli and Palestinian delegations meet together in neutral contexts; to assist the process of understanding and to reduce tensions and (b) to identify specific areas in which the Council of Europe might assist the Middle East Peace Process and formulate concrete proposals.
Mrs Benaboud said that the North South Centre was acting as coordinator for the Task Forces in the context of its transmediterranean projects. In the field of youth it was collaborating with the Youth Directorate and with non-governmental youth organisations.
Mr Klein explained that the Conference on Euro-Arab youth cooperation and youth policy in the Mediterranean area (including grass-roots organisations) taking place at the end of 1996 was planned as a joint activity of the Youth Directorate and the North-South Centre. Another joint initiative could be the establishment (together with the Assembly) of a group to monitor the Middle East Peace Process, as earlier proposed by Mr Amihoud, and also to advance youth involvement in it.
Mr Jilani put forward three proposals as practical projects for advancing cooperation and coexistence [full text available in English].
(a) Conversion of the former Fara'a complex, formerly a prison, into a youth centre as a symbol of the change from conflict to consolidation and peace. This had already been agreed as a priority project by the Ministry of Youth and Sport; staff had been assigned and funds were being collected. Qatar had promised money for a summer camp later this year. He sought assistance from the Council of Europe in management training, programming activities and in training trainers. European youth organisations could help. He hoped that Israel would also back the project.
(b) Implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian Youth On-Line Network for Peace. This project had been discussed in detail. It provided a platform for Israelis and Palestinians to met and exchange information regularly. It was open to multilateral cooperation with the rest of the world.
(c) Creation of a Palestinian National Youth Council. Help was needed for the setting up of coordination networks and the training of young people to run them and to prepare regular publications on and for young people.
Mr Sandberg had to leave early, but was glad for the chance to react on these proposals. While he did not wish to interfere with Palestinian affairs, he was not happy with the symbolism represented by the prison; he would have preferred that each side picked places without a past. He returned to his earlier proposal of transferring the model of mixed Jewish-Arabic sports teams to the Israeli-Palestinian context. He thanked the Tunisian authorities for enabling the Israeli delegation to visit the country for the first time.
Sir Russell Johnston thanked him for his cheerful and positive participation. As the Beatles had pointed out "All you need is love".
Mr Katz did not agree with Mr Sandberg. He was uncertain as to how the mixed sports teams could be set up as Israelis very rarely visited the Palestinian territories.
Turning to the Palestinian proposals, he himself approved the idea of the youth centre and its location in a former prison. He hoped that it would prove to be a suitable place for young people to visit from Israel.
No decision could be taken now. He suggested however that a permanent joint Israeli-Palestinian group be set up (involving representatives of youth organisations, together with the foreign office and the relevant specialised ministries on each side) to discuss this and other ideas coming out of the meeting.
As Chairman of the Knesset Committee on Social Affairs, he wished to ensure that attention was paid to the weaker, disabled members of society. He hoped that bilateral programmes could be developed and proposed to invite Mr Shu'aibi to a Knesset ceremony celebrating the giving of special computers to blind people (both Jewish and Arab).
He believed that the delegations should keep in touch following the meeting in Tunis.
Mr Jilani agreed to the idea of a joint follow-up group with ministry involvement. This would enable a joint approach to be made to potential donors. It hoped the site of the centre would attract young Israeli visitors and activities such as art, music and sport. The Palestinians were used to seeing Israelis only in uniforms.
Mrs Verspaget noted that Nelson Mandela's prison in South Africa was also converted into an educational centre. She wondered if the proposed centre would be used for youth organisations only or for cultural exchanges in general.
Mrs Fleetwood also liked the idea of the centre but hoped that it would also be open to young people from other countries.
Sir Russell Johnston felt that the first priority was for the Israeli and Palestinian young people to get to know each other. He wondered about the other proposal for cooperation between border villages.
Mr Jilani replied that this idea had yet to win the support of the municipalities involved.
Mr Curiel was very positively surprised at the Palestinian interest in joint activities with Israel.
As far as the converted prison was concerned, the matter had to be negotiated if it was situated in Area B rather than Area A, over which the Palestinian Authority had full control. He also advised against picking symbols, the main idea was that young people should meet.
He believed that a greater effort could be made on the level of municipalities in providing youth information centres and youth exchange schemes. Training was also important for Palestinian recovery, whether on a triangular basis (involving Europe) or on a regional.
For the formulation of further proposals it was important however that the Task Force meeting in Tunis was followed up by on the spot visits and discussions with a wider range of experts.
He welcomed the present contact with Tunisia and hoped that full diplomatic relations would soon be set up following those established with Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.
Mr Jilani said that the prison was at present in Area B, but was expected to be in Area A in 6 months if withdrawal went ahead on schedule. There was no security risk for Israel. On the symbolism he pointed out that it had originally been a British prison.
Mr Rookmaaker felt that attention should focus on the future youth centre, not the past prison. The youth platforms were willing to back the project.
In further discussion on the constitution of a follow-up body, Mr Amihoud recommended Palestinian involvement and on-site visits in the Palestinian territories. Mr Bal stressed direct consultation with local youth organisations. Mr Rookmaaker suggested that a first step would be to collect information on the organisations dealing with cooperation on the Israeli and Palestinian sides. Sir Russell Johnston concluded that it should be a representative Council of Europe group, not restricted to the North South Centre, and that it should go to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Mr Khraishi repeated his proposal for the Institute on Human Rights in Strasbourg to give seminars on human rights for Israelis and Palestinians. He recalled the first two aims of the On-Line Network: to facilitate discussion and to exchange ideas. More exchanges were necessary. The separation of authorities should not imply the separation of peoples and the aim should be open borders and full cooperation.
Mr Katz warned against taking the process too far and too fast. He understood that the Palestinians wanted an independent state, but at this stage this was formally for Israel a matter only to be discussed at some future date. Steps taken now to improve relations between the Israeli and Palestinians peoples would of course greatly help later developments. This was the importance of building bridges now between the younger generations.
Sir Russell Johnston noted that the present delegations, as their leaders, were sympathetic to the peace process. Many others were not and it was these whom it was important to draw into the process. The same problems surrounded the rather more intractable peace process in Northern Ireland.
Mrs Verspaget wondered why the human rights seminars had to be held in Strasbourg. Would it not be more effective if they were introduced into the Israeli and Palestinian education curricula? This had been discussed at the meeting evaluating the campaign against intolerance and agreement reached on the need to pass from pilot projects in human rights education to a broader approach.
Mr Katz agreed that information on human rights had a more general relevance for Israeli and Palestinian society as a whole.
Mr Klein wished to include the expertise of different parts of the Council of Europe. Mrs Fleetwood strongly supported human rights education. Sir Russell Johnston suggested that it be pursued further at the Task Force on Human Rights (Paris, 4 March).
Mr Rahoui (MP, Tunisia) saw the main problem as how to work for better understanding between young people on both sides. There were three main areas for action: (a) meetings and seminars between local youth organisations (b) study visits on both sides related to tolerance and voluntary work (c) assistance from the Council of Europe and other governmental organisations so as to involve Israeli and Palestinian young people in international work and exchange schemes. He concluded with the suggestion of a symbolic international project for the construction of a centre open to the whole world.
Sir Russell Johnston returned to the subject of the mass media as a major factor in influencing the attitudes of the population at large. The idea of news produced jointly by both sides (as on the Franco-German channel ARTE) should be given further consideration.
Mrs Dibo believed that the relative strengths of the Israeli and Palestinian media were at present too uneven for this last idea to be implemented yet. It would however be possible for the written press on both sides to put out daily bulletins edited by a joint team of Israelis and Palestinians. Language was a problem.
Mr Curiel believed that the European Union was to finance a joint Israeli-Palestinian channel as part of its Mediterranean programme.
Mrs Verspaget felt this area should be kept in mind. Language had not proved an obstacle to similar initiatives in South Africa.
Mr Jilani pointed out that the matter was outside the competence of his ministry. He would discuss it further with the Ministry of Information and possibly introduce it as a further element of the On-Line Network.
Mr Andrade said that CENYC supported the setting up of a Palestinian National Youth Council as earlier proposed by Mr Jilani. It would willingly assist in training youth leaders, in seeking sources of funding and in associating independent youth organisations.
Mr Bal expressed the support of ECB to the dynamics of the Task Force.
Mr Rookmaaker recalled the major conference on the Euro-Arab Dialogue for Youth and Students that would be held late in 1996 in the European Youth Centre Budapest. Non-governmental youth organisations from all the Middle East, including Israeli and Palestinian, would be involved.
Mr Jilani pointed out that the Euro-Arab Dialogue for Youth and Students was the first context in which Israeli participation had been introduced.
Mr Dysvik hoped that Assembly participation in the present Task Force would have a multiplying effect on national parliamentary awareness of the situation. The usual European perception of the Middle East Peace Process was to see it in terms of massive financial investment in development hardware (roads etc). It was essential to recognise the long-term importance of the sectors of youth and education.
8. Concluding session
Sir Russell Johnston suspected that one of the main contributions the Assembly was likely to make to the Middle East Peace Process was the convening of the present Task Force. It had taken place in an atmosphere of constructive dialogue and had focused attention on the areas of youth and education.
It was he believed reasonable for the Council of Europe (which had no resources) to draw the attention of other bodies such as the European Union (which had resources) to the Palestinian needs for basic infrastructure especially in the field of education.
The importance of human rights education had been agreed. This should be taken further at the next Task Force. The Council of Europe had considerable experience in this field, and most recently from its campaign against racism and intolerance. Tension had to be reduced to make rational relations possible.
Agreement had been reached that the Task Force could not end with this single meeting in Tunis. For the youth activities in particular, some sort of permanent monitoring group was agreed to be necessary. This should include representatives of youth and ministries on both Israeli and Palestinian sides, the European youth platforms and the Council of Europe (Youth Directorate, North South Centre and Assembly).
The Palestinians had come up with the interesting initiative of setting up a new youth centre. It remained to be seen how far Israel might participate. He hoped that their reaction would be constructive.
Youth exchanges and contact between young people remained an absolute priority. The Council of Europe and the European youth platforms must continue to give their full support. There was much that the youth organisations were to take up directly with the Palestinians on a bilateral basis.
The influence of the mass media had been raised. Progress towards mutual understanding might be made through joint projects, especially in the written press.
Several areas of the Middle East Peace Process were relevant to the Assembly Committee on Culture and Education. In addition to youth and education, mention had been made of universities, the arts, music, sport and media. There were also the problems of religious tolerance and the rich cultural heritage of the area.
As a practical step forward on the Assembly side, he would propose therefore that the Committee on Culture and Education set up a permanent Sub-Committee.
Finally he thanked the Tunisian authorities for making it possible for the Task Force to meet in Tunis, for their friendly reception and for the programme of cultural visits.
Mr Rookmaaker broke bread and chocolate and presented both to the Israeli and Palestinian delegations.
Mr Jilani thanked the Israeli delegation for its constructive understanding and willingness to cooperate with the Palestinians in their eagerness for a new atmosphere in the region. He thanked Sir Russell Johnston and the Council of Europe secretariat. He was glad of the opportunity to meet again his friends in Tunisia where he still felt very much at home. In conclusion he thanked the youth organisations: they had initiated cooperation with the Palestinian youth organisations and it would be for them to carry this out in practice.
Mr Amihoud thanked the Tunisians for their hospitality which Israel looked forward to being able to reciprocate. He paid tribute to Sir Russell Johnston's good-natured handling of the meeting and thanked the secretariat. He gave assurances of the full support of Israel for the continuation of this exercise in the interests of peace in the region.
Ms Arbi (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Tunisia) thanked the Council of Europe for having chosen Tunis for this meeting and looked forward to further opportunities for cooperation. The Task Force was a positive initiative that her authorities fully supported. The Middle East Peace Process was in the interest of peace and stability in the region as a whole.
D - DOCUMENTS
Observations resulting from the North South Centre study visit to the Middle East.
Note prepared by the North-South Centre.
From the results of the Study visit to the Middle East which was organised by the Centre in March 1995 it is clear that the following items should be on the agenda.
(1) A key factor for the success of the current peace process will be the successful reintegration of youth in Palestinian society. A successful reintegration process could have a two-tier approach:
a. It is important that young people see the benefits of the peace agreements in their everyday lives. Recreational, sports and other facilities for young people are largely lacking in the Palestinian Territories. The Ministry of Youth as well as several NGOs have set up ambitious programmes to provide these facilities for the Palestine Youth. It will be important for the Task Force to discuss how a wide support can be generated for these types of programmes.
b. The active participation of young people in the development of the Palestinian society should be promoted. A key element for this is the development of a youth movement in the Palestinian Territories. This implies both the transformation of a "liberation organisation's youth wing" into a pluralist youth movement, as well as the integration of the so-called "Intifada Youth" into such a movement. The development of a youth movement in the Territories should be backed up by proper mechanisms the participation of this young people in the development of their society. The Task Force should discuss how the experiences of the Council of Europe, its member states and the European youth organisations can be used to assist this process.
(2) Prejudices and enemy thinking are unfortunately still abundant among young Israelis and Palestinians. It will therefore be important to integrate peace education and confidence building into the formal and informal education systems of those countries. Moreover, due to the occupation and resulting Intifada it will be important to promote the concepts of democracy and human rights through the formal and informal education systems. The Task Force should look at what programmes it could develop and/or support to this end.
(3) Cooperation between young Israelis and Palestinians can be an important element in the process of confidence building. Some projects in this field have already be set-up by Palestinian and Israeli NGOs. It will be important to exchange and multiply successful models and learn from eventual mistakes. Besides that, multilateral cooperation between European, Israeli and Arab youth organisations can provide a starting point for this confidence building, and later bilateral cooperation.
The Israeli-Palestinian Youth On-Line Network for Peace
as a broad frame for co-operation and coordination. [extract]
1) to facilitate discussion
2) to exchange ideas
3) to provide a space for co-operation between specialised youth structures
4) to become a centre for direct communication
5) organising regular international youth peace camps at the borders between the two entities
6) organising youth "ECHO" negotiations running parallel to the peace negotiations
7) monitor violations of the peace accord on both sides
8) to campaign for human rights and equality specially for youth and both sides
9) promoting and developing the role of young women
10) executing youth exchange programmes
11) promoting and recruiting the widest possible members to the network individually and by structure
12) research work
13) courses on conflict resolution
14) religious tolerance
15) youth peace conference
16) to connect with existing Mediterranean youth networks.
1) The General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS)
2) The Palestinian Youth Association (PYA)
3) Palestinian Youth for Co-operation and Peace (PYCP)
4) Fida Youth (FY)
1) Labor Young leadership (LYL)
2) Meretz Youth (MY)
3) Noar Oved [trade union youth]
4) Reot Sadaqua (RS)
E - LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Committee on Culture and Education
- Sir Russell JOHNSTON (United Kingdom), Chairman
- Mr René KOLLWELTER (Luxembourg)
- Mrs Elisabeth FLEETWOOD (Sweden)
- Mrs Josephine VERSPAGET (Netherlands)
- Mr Jamal MUHAISEN, Deputy Minister of Youth, PO Box 52, Ramallah, West Bank (tel: (972) 2-998 59 83)
- Mr Ibrahim KHRAISHI, Secretary General of the General Union of Palestinian Students and member of the Palestinian Council, PO Box 4048, Gaza (tel-fax: (972) 7-82 34 17)
- Mr Merwan JILANI, Director of Programmes, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Palestinian Authority; PO Box 52, Ramallah, West Bank (tel: (972) 2-998 59 81/2; Fax (972) 2-998 59 91). Also Member of the PNC.
- Mr Ashraf SHU'AIBI, Director of the Public Relations Department, Ministry of Education, Palestinian Authority, PO Box 3545, El-Bireh, West Bank (tel: (972) 2-998 55 58; fax: (972) 2-998 55 59)
- Mr Yossi KATZ, MK, The Knesset, Jerusalem (tel: (972) 2-75 31 20; fax: (972) 2- 75 31 96)
- Mr Eliezer SANDBERG, MK, The Knesset, Jerusalem (tel: (972) 2-75 35 94)
- Mr Ran CURIEL, Director of the Department for European Organisations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem (tel: (972) 2-730 36 23; fax: (972) 2-30 38 68
- Mr Joseph AMIHOUD, Ambassador, 146 rue du Paradis, F-13006 Marseille (tel: (33) 91 53 39 90; fax: (33) 91 53 39 94)
- Mr Hafidh RAHOUI, Member of the House of Deputies, Secretary General of the Union of Tunisian youth organisations, RCD (Rassemblement constitutionnel démocratique). Maison du RCD, Boulevard du 9 Avril, La Kasba, Tunis (tel: (216) 1-560 568; fax: (216) 1-570 005)
- Miss Samia ARBI, Counsellor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 34 rue d'Iran, Tunis 1001 (tel: (216) 1-832 962; fax: (216) 1-790 365)
- Mr Nabil Ben KHEDER, Counsellor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 34 rue d'Iran, Tunis 1001 (tel: (216) 1-790 365)
- Mr Lassoued BELHASSEN, Director of International Cooperation, Ministry of Youth, Tunis
- Mr Gouja MONCEF, Counsellor, Ministry of Culture, Tunis
- Mr M. GHARIANI, Permanent Secretary of Youth and Education, Ministry of Education, boulevard Bab Benat, Tunis
- Mr Rachid LARBI, Ministry of Education, boulevard Bab Benat, Tunis
- Ms Faouzia ABDEL'JAOUED, Deputy Director of international co-operation, Ministry of Education, boulevard Bab Benat, Tunis
- Mr Mehdi REMILI, IRMC (Institut de recherche sur le Maghreb contemporain), 20 rue Mohamed Ali Tahar, 1002 Tunis Mutuelleville (tel: (216) 1-796 722)
Youth platforms and other experts invited by the North-South Centre
- Mr Jan BAL, European Coordination Bureau (ECB) of international non-governmental youth organisations. Naamsesteenweg 164. B-3001 Leuven (tel: (32) 16-233 762; fax: (32) 16-233 925)
- Mr Marcos ANDRADE, Council of European National Youth Committees (CENYC). Chaussée de Wavre 517-19, B-1040 Brussels (tel: (32) 2-648 91 01; fax: (32) 2-648 96 40 and (351) 1-814 45 99)
- Mr Kallabi RAOUF, Maghreb Union of Youth and Students, Maison du RCD, Boulevard du 9 Avril, La Kasba, Tunis (tel: (216) 1-560 568; fax: (216) 1-570 005)
- Mr Wali TAOUFIK, J.C.D. Jeunesse, Maison du RCD, Boulevard du 9 Avril, La Kasba, Tunis (tel: (216) 1-560 569; fax: (216) 1-570 005)
- Mrs Amal DIBO, Unicef Beirut, PO Box 5902, Beirut, Lebanon (tel: (961) 1-368 490; fax: (961) 1-212 47 82 644)
- Mrs Mireille SZATAN, President of World Refugee Children, 34 rue Gaston Lauriau - F-93100 Montreuil (tel: (1) 48 59 60 29; fax: (1) 48 59 64 88)
- Mr Joram ROOKMAAKER, Youth representative in the Trans Mediterranean Ad Hoc Committee of the North-South Centre, A. Paulownalaan 1, NL-3818 GB Amersfoort (tel: (31) 33-620 903; fax (31) 33-465 208)
- Mr Vebjørn DYSVIK, Vice-President of European Youth, Europeisk Unedo Øvre, Slottst. 5, N-0157 Oslo (tel: (47) 22-426 240; fax: (47) 22-423 535)
- Mr Kent HÄRSTEDT, Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PO Box 161 21, S-103 23 Stockholm (tel: (46) 8-405 55 30; fax: (46) 8-108 102)
Avenida Da Libertade 119-4°, P-1200 Lisbon (tel: (351) 1-352 4954; fax: (351) 1-353 13 29)
- Mrs Fifi BENABOUD, Transmediterranean Programme Coordinator
- Mr Bas KLEIN, Youth Programme Co-ordinator
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex (tel: (33) 88 41 2298; fax: (33) 88 41 2777)
- Ms Sonja MITTER, Tutor responsible for preparing the Euro-Arab symposium
Parliamentary Assembly Secretariat
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex (tel: (33) 88 41 2114; fax: (33) 88 41 2797
- Mr Christopher GRAYSON, Secretary to the Committee on Culture and Education
- Mrs Anne-Marie NOTHIS, Assistant
Position paper of CENYC and ECB
Submitted by Marcos Andrade and Jan Bal (3 and 6 March 1996)
The follow up and extension of the whole process is an aim in itself. The proposal to set up a monitoring group is for CENYC and ECB of utmost importance in order to keep up the contacts and to maintain the relations on this issue with the Palestinian and Israeli governments and youth organisations.
The monitoring group should elaborate a work plan on the basis of the proposals made during the meeting in Tunis and implement it.
The multilateral composition composition and working methods of the monitoring group should be emphasised in order to foster the start of general co-operation between Arab, Israeli and European young people.
The monitoring group could be made up of representatives of the following bodies:
- North-South Centre of the Council of Europe
- Youth Directorate of the Council of Europe
- Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
- the Israeli and Palestinian Governments (preferably through their Ministries of Youth and Sports)
- Palestinian Youth Association
- Israeli Public Council for the Exchange of Youth and Young Adults
- the 3 European Youth Platforms
On the formal and informal levels many interesting experiences can de shared with the relevant structures and NGOs in the field of intercultural learning and exchange. The expertise of the European Youth Centre could help identify the working methods and framework.
We would also like to propose the possible involvement of other Council of Europe departments that might be able to contribute in this field: Commission on Human Rights, DECS and the North-South Centre.
Information and training
Many experiences can be exchanged by the European Youth Platforms and the Youth Directorate of the Council of Europe concerning training and information. The experience coming out of the "All Different - All Equal" campaign and such products of the campaign as the Education Pack, together with other pedagogical material can provide interesting models for a joint initiative of Israeli and Palestinian youth organisations. The core message of this campaign is linked to the key issues of the region in question such as confidence-building, lasting peace and mutual understanding. The experience of the work done in recent years on building up youth organisations and civil society in central and eastern Europe can also be applied to the Middle East.
We support the idea of transforming the former prison of "El Faraa" into a youth centre. This would seem to provide the necessary framework and structure for implementing the issues mentioned above. It should be a place where Palestinian and Israeli young people can meet together and have joint activities. We feel that the experience of the tutors of the European Youth Centre as well as the youth organisations involved in the different training courses at the centre can be of great help in responding to the needs expressed by the Palestinian Delegation in Tunis.
We are committed to offering specific advice and training for the setting up of a Palestinian National Youth Council on the lines presented by our Palestinian partner.
The Youth On-Line Network for Peace, as presented by Mr Khraishi, seems to cover a broad field of key issues and is in our opinion a most interesting basis for further collaboration.
We further feel that close co-operation between the European youth organisations and the Israeli and Palestinian young people can gain a great deal by establishing the proposed structure on the basis of the co-management practice of the Council of Europe.
 by the Committee on Culture and Education