Israeli, Palestinian, and American women leaders met last week to form a Women’s Partnership for Peace in the Middle East. Composed of women in the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset), the Palestinian Authority, and the US Congress, the 70 delegates met in Oslo, Norway, at the Nobel Peace Institute, according to InterPress Service. The conference stressed the importance of including women in the peace process. “Women have an important role to play that has not been fully recognized yet,” said Dena Merriam of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, which organized the summit, according to IPS.
“Only by including women at all levels of the decision-making process can we find peace,” Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said in her remarks at the conference, according to IPS. US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), who served as honorary chair of the proceedings in Oslo, returned with a plan of action. She wants to start an initiative to connect women members of Congress with women from Israel and Palestine to learn more about the conflict from their point of view, IPS reports. She also hopes to convince President Bush to appoint a special envoy to monitor the peace process, according to the Houston Chronicle.