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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
15 April 1998

Paris, April 15 {No.98-71}- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority, have written to UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor expressing their support for the Organisation’s Granada II initiative to promote Israeli-Palestinian understanding and nurture a culture of peace in the Middle East through joint projects in education, science, culture and communication.

“People to people programmes [are] an essential part of the peace process,” Mr Netanyahu writes in his letter, explaining “we believe that this framework, and especially the Granada II initiative, needs to proceed irrespective of any political difficulties.” He also says that “only by influencing the minds of men, by making the culture of peace a reality in the Middle East, can there be a firm foundation for political and diplomatic agreements.”

In his letter, Mr Arafat writes: “I wish to convey my deep gratitude for all your work to prepare the signing of this agreement [Granada II, signed in Ramallah on February 26] initiated by UNESCO, thus demonstrating its will and perseverance to contribute to the culture of peace in the Middle East [...] and for all the initiatives and activities undertaken to this end and in all of UNESCO’s fields of competence.”

Both statesmen express their support for Granada II - launched by Mr Mayor as a follow-up to the meeting of Israeli and Palestinian artists and intellectuals organised by UNESCO in Granada, Spain, in 1993 - which aims to give a fresh impetus to peace building in the Middle East by providing a framework for co-operation between Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

UNESCO is presently working to implement approximately a dozen projects within the framework of the agreement signed by the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in February.

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