The first annual Atkin Conference on ‘Prospects for Peace in the Middle East’ brought together leading thinkers and policymakers at the Strand Campus yesterday. Speakers including Sir Menzies Campbell MP analysed the current situation in the region and discussed opportunities for moving the process forward.
The event was organised by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation & Political Violence (ICSR), in collaboration with their four Atkin Research Fellows Sefi Kedmi, Amal Abusrour, Oday Abukaresh and Odelia Englander who chaired the panel discussions and keynote address.
The Atkin Fellowship offers young leaders from Israel and the Arab world the opportunity to come to develop their ideas on how to further peace and understanding in the Middle East in a neutral political environment. Thanks to the generosity of the Atkin Foundation the ICSR offers a group of young leaders each year the opportunity to come to London for a period of four months.
Dr Peter Neumann, Director of the ICSR, explained that he hoped the conference would bring together the Atkin Fellows each year and would help ensure that the fellowship created a ‘network of trust’.
Oday Abukaresh, who joined the ICSR as an Atkin Research Fellow in Spring 2009, comments: ‘I applied to become an Atkin Research Fellow as I had the infinite belief that Europe has an important role in the Middle East conflict and because of my willingness to try and find a solution for all nations to live together harmoniously. I now have a good network of friends from across the world.
Atkin Research Fellow Odelia Englander said: ‘The first Atkin Conference was a unique symposium gathering politicians, diplomats and scholars. The aim was to bring together people from Israel and the surrounding Arab states that are engaged in civil society, business sector, policy making and entrepreneurship. The fact that we, the Atkin Fellows, were at the heart of the conference reflects the notion behind the fellowship, to build a network of moderate leaders. I am happy to be amongst the first Atkin Fellows and am looking forward to next year’s conference already.’
Other speakers at the conference included Sabri Saidam, a former minister and senior advisor to the Palestinian President; Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK; Dr Ron Pundak, the President of the Peres Peace Center and a former high-level peace negotiator; Dr Ezzedine Choukri, a senior Egyptian Diplomat and professor at the University of Cairo; Yasar Qatarneh of the Jordanian Regional Centre for Conflict Prevention; and Ely Karmon of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
The conference will result in a short action paper put together by the Atkin Fellows and ICSR staff. The paper will be published and disseminated among policymakers currently engaged in formulating policy on the region.