Investing in stability: Spain brings together religious leaders to foster peace in the Middle East

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Spain brings together religious leaders to foster peace in the Middle East

Speakers at the summit for religious leaders for peace in the middle eastSuccessful prevention of conflicts rarely makes the headlines. However, for millions of people dying or suffering daily in conflict, there can be no alternative to timely, coherent and decisive leadership. Embarking on a path to end conflict and reach political settlements that address those causes requires a willingness to set aside differences entrenched in political positions and to support local or national “constituencies of peace and non-violence”.

Implementing the Agenda for Humanity transformation to “invest in stability”, the Government of Spain led the way in promoting peaceful and inclusive societies by organizing on 14–15 November 2016, the Summit of religious leaders for peace in the Middle East.

participants at the summit of religious leaders for peace in the middle eastHeld at Casa Mediterráneo in Alicante, the highest religious leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths from Israel and Palestine met for the first time to discuss supporting peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. This meeting sought to be a call for tolerance, peaceful co-existence and reconciliation in order to avoid religion becoming a source of conflict, to prevent violence, the incitation of hatred, radicalization and extremism. Through this unprecedented initiative, the Government of Spain, with the support of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, sought to foster the positive role that religious leaders can play in building peace in the Middle East.

The religious aspects and those issues related to the holy sites for the three religions in Jerusalem are tied in to the identities of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish peoples in the Middle East and are among the most sensitive issues in the peace process. The holding of a meeting at this time is particularly important since the peace process between Israel and Palestine has been paralyzed and there is a lack of constructive dialogue between the parties.

On 16 November, after the summit ended, the participating religious leaders travelled to Madrid, where they received a closing event at Viana Palace by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Alfonso Dastis, with the aim of directly receiving the impressions of the participants on the results of the meetings held in Alicante.

Together with the Alliance of Civilisations Spain will hold the second international conference on religious minorities on the 24th of May 2017 in Madrid, to follow up on the discussions initiated at the Summit of religious leaders for peace in the Middle East.