Over the past two decades dozens of initiatives have tried to place the Israelis and Palestinians at the negotiating table. The inability to reach an agreement, despite the efforts of prominent world leaders, has led many to believe that the two sides are too far apart – that their demands are too irreconcilable – to ever come to a mutually agreeable peace deal.
But how far are the two sides really? Over the past year, SAYA has embarked, together with the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East on a project to pinpoint the key demands that each side brings the negotiating table on the core issues of the conflict. The project evaluated the gaps between the two sides, and looked at how previous rounds of negotiations have attempted to bridge those gaps. In order to do so, the project collected the most innovative proposals to resolve these issues – the work of taskforces, conferences, working groups, think tanks, academics, NGOs, and civil society groups – many of which have received little exposure outside the small circle of policy makers.
The project chose to define the core issues as those that could make-or-break a final-status agreement: Borders, Security, Refugees, and Jerusalem. There are certainly other contentious issues that need to be resolved at the negotiating table, but the project focused on the four that are generally agreed to be the core issues standing in the way of an agreement. SAYA was involved not only in developing the content and creating the visuals and animations, but some of our architectural and urban planning work is also featured among the solutions to the Jerusalem challenge in the Jerusalem chapter.
The project is featured from today onward in a four-part series on The Atlantic Magazine.