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The Regional Network, 2016

AJEEC – NISPED is an NGO promoting  Arab-Jewish cooperation through thousands of volunteers in Israel's Bedaween and Aarab communities. Following yet another round of violence between Hamas and Israel, the NGO's board presented me with a 'small' challenge: to find a platform for a peace process. The Arab Peace Initiative (API), initially presented in 2002, was such a framework. Our challenge was that the Israeli government never recognised it, and It's been seven years since the last time the Arab League reaffirmed it.

To help bring the API back into discussions among policy leaders, we built a network of organisations in Israel, Palestine, and several other Arab countries, each tasked to promote the initiative in their own countries. We called it "The Regional Network".

The entire campaign ran from our office in Tel Aviv, including branding, building a website and social media presence, and writing the network's manifesto - which we then sent to more than 250,000 Israeli households. We also recruited high-profile figures to act as supporters, so when US Secretary of State John Kerry was receiving criticism from Israeli officials for his efforts to promote peace talks in the region, they signed an open letter addressed to Kerry, supporting his efforts, which we sent to press members in Israel and abroad. Other ideas included the creation of a short film competition called "One Minute to Peace" and arranging forum meetings between MPs from Israel and different Arab countries, held in Prague and later announced in an international press conference.

Following our activities, the Arab League reaffirmed the API in their 2017 summit. Moreover, through these actions and more, we were able to put the API on Israel's news agenda, generating international exposure and pushing forward the notion that a regional umbrella provided by leading Arab countries is the best way to breach some of the critical gaps between Israel and Palestine. This concept still resonates today despite the current and worrying situation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

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