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The 12th May 2024 webinar hosted by James Holmes, founder of International Communities Organisation and moderated by Samer Sinijlawi, a Palestinian politician, brought together distinguished panellists including former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Naser Alkidwa, and three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman . The discussion primarily centred on seeking peace and solutions in the Middle East, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Key topics included: – The need for a ceasefire in Gaza, – The potential roles of international and Arab forces in the region, – The importance of establishing a legitimate, effective, and non-corrupt Palestinian Authority. Panellists advocated for a two-state solution and detailed their visions for achieving peace. Throughout the webinar, several new and important points were highlighted by the panellists, including the necessity for leadership changes on both sides to facilitate progress. Mr. Olmert emphasised the critical need for Israel to declare its intention to fully withdraw from Gaza. Dr. Alkidwa called for a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza without imposing conditions or control over the Palestinian population. A significant discussion revolved around the potential roles of international and Arab forces in stabilising Gaza post-Israeli withdrawal, with Mr. Olmert proposing that, ideally, an Arab-led force, potentially including moderate Arab states and Palestinian forces, should temporarily take over administration in Gaza until a stable governance structure is established. All panellists reiterated their commitment to a two-state solution as the only viable resolution to the conflict, providing fresh insights in the current geopolitical context. A significant point raised was the need for new leadership on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to advance peace talks. The panellists argued that current leaders may not be capable of making the bold moves necessary for a lasting peace agreement. Thomas Friedman discussed integrating Hamas into the Palestinian political framework in a transformed and positive manner; he also emphasised the need to include all significant political factions within a legitimate, effective, and credible Palestinian Authority to ensure comprehensive representation of Palestinian voices in peace processes. While addressing the role of Hamas, Dr. Alkidwa suggested that, although Hamas should not necessarily be part of the initial government, it should be consulted and involved in some capacity, reflecting its significant influence in Gaza. Dr Alkidwa also raised several key points during the webinar, focusing on the path forward for achieving peace and stability in the region and stressed the urgency of ending the ongoing conflict and violence as a primary step towards broader peace discussions. Finally, a conference of donors was proposed to ensure financial and resource support for rebuilding Gaza, suggesting contributions from a range of international stakeholders, including Israel. The webinar concluded with a Q&A session addressing various aspects of the peace process and regional politics.

The full video can be found at this link.

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