Approximately five thousand Israeli and Palestinian women have united to march by the shores of the Jordan River to promote a simple message: peace. After two weeks of continuous marches, a ‘peace tent’ was erected to concrete their message. The marchers, from the Women Wage Peace group, are committed to changing paradigms of conflict and violence and are urging governing bodies from both Israel and Palestine to come to a peaceful agreement. Many constituents in the respective states echo this sentiment, given the interstate conflict lasting almost a hundred years. Many participants of the march were dressed entirely in white, as a symbol of peace.
Vivian Silver, a member of the Women Wage Peace group explained the reasoning behind the march: “We must change the paradigm that we have been taught for seven decades now, where we have been told that only war will bring peace.” Fellow advocate, and mother of one of the group’s founders Amira Zidan states the logic behind the gender exclusivity of the group: “The men who have power believe only in war, but with the strength of women we can bring something else, something new.” Founders of the Women Wage Peace group advocate for a “bilaterally acceptable political agreement.”
While women represent one of the most commonly undermined voices in society, this march visibly renders their influence evident. Further, it is humbling to see that two groups from states who have conflicted for a near century can set aside their differences and work towards a greater objective of peace. The march sends a strong message to political leaders regarding how citizens of the two states feel about the conflict, and in turn, encourages governing bodies to work towards a peaceful resolution. It is inspiring to see progress towards conflict resolution that does not incorporate violence, yet maintains a powerful significance.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine can be traced back to the mid-20th century, where tensions rose following Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Currently, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and the Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestine Liberation Organisation negotiate conflict resolutions which are mediated by the Quartet on the Middle East. The most effective resolution to the conflict involves a distinct two-state solution, with a liberated Palestine. A poll was conducted in 2007 targeted at citizens of the two states confirmed that this was the most preferred method of resolution. Nonetheless, negotiations still continue today, as the conflict is multidimensional, principally involving the control of Jerusalem, Israeli occupation and Palestinian autonomy.
The Peace March has positive implications for the engrained conflict, revealing the advantages peaceful demonstrations can bring. The success of the event will surely encourage respective governances to reconcile their differences. Once the two states are exposed to the citizens’ abilities to set aside the struggle, the pressure will be placed on the Israeli government to allow an independent Palestine. Following a two-state solution, violence in the region will be underpinned by a focus on progress, pertaining positively to global peace and security.
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