"It was important for me to know that there was a starting point for Israelis and Palestinians to talk to each other that was based on the possibility of mutual recognition, not one on the account of the other, and not one in the place of the other... I always believed that the basis for coexistence is existence, that you can't have coexistence if one side is wiped off the map."
Gershon Baskin moved to Israel from the United States in the late 1970s. He worked with Jews and Arabs within Israel until the first intifada, when he began promoting dialogue and opportunities for cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. He is the founder of IPCRI, a jointly-run Israeli and Palestinian think tank that works with hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians in government and the private sector. IPCRI was first based in Jerusalem, and in the late 1990s moved its offices to Bethlehem.
"If we can integrate the abilities of these two peoples it will be a wonderful integration. I have not doubt this is the solution and it cannot be otherwise. I do not see a black future. I do not see that these peoples will destroy each other, rather that within twenty years they will build an economy that will be glorious, not just glorious—it will also contribute to all of humanity."
Helmi Kittani is an economist who worked for over 20 years in a senior position in one of Israel's largest banks. In 1992 he became the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development, where he works to strengthen the economy in the Arab sector in Israel, and to build business partnerships between Jews and Palestinians both within Israel and across the Green Line.