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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
27 February 1998

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT SIGNED UNDER THE AEGIS OF UNESCO


Paris, February 27 {No.98-39} - A co-operation agreement in the fields of education, culture and science was signed on February 26 in Ramallah by Uri Bar-Ner, General-Director of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Palestinian Deputy Minister for Development and International Co-operation, Anis Al Qaq.

The agreement, drafted under the aegis of UNESCO and signed, on behalf of the Organisation, by Daniel Janicot, Assistant Director-General for the Directorate, marks the launch of the Granada II process which aims to contribute to peace-building between Israelis and Palestinians.

Granada II comes as the direct follow-up to the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals which was organised by UNESCO in Granada, Spain, in December 1993. UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor said the process “aims to enable Palestinians and Israelis to contribute to building a future of peace by working together on co-operation projects under the auspices of UNESCO.”

Granada II began in July 1997 with a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian education, science and culture experts in Jerusalem. Despite the tense political situation, it was followed by technical meetings which identified about 15 co-operation projects. The agreement signed in Ramallah yesterday provides a permanent framework to this process which will be launched officially next May or June, once the list, modalities and financing of the projects are determined. At the invitation of Mr. Mayor, a meeting should then submit these projects to the approval of the highest Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

The agreement stipulates that the Israeli and Palestinian education systems should be encouraged to reflect objective reciprocal knowledge and positive understanding of both peoples’ religious and political concepts. Youth education is essential for mutual understanding and priority must be given to communication between universities operating in the fields of training and research. The new electronic technology can play a great role in the exchange of experience and transfer of knowledge, the agreement says.

According to the agreement, on sciences, the geographic constraints of the region - energy and water - oblige the parties to co-operate and to prepare common projects to control the use of energy and the management of water. The development of research and training, in particular in the fields of energy renewal, water desalination and management of natural resources, and participation in regional and international science networks, are recommended.

Stressing the cultural wealth of the Middle East, cradle of civilisations, the agreement insists that to safeguard any of the parties’ cultural heritage means safeguarding the cultural heritage of all. The governments in place are necessary interlocutors but the civil societies must also be taken into account notably through cultural meetings. Activities in this field must respect cultural specificities and encourage dialogue between the religions.

Regarding communication, essential to generating public opinion, measures must also be taken to promote better understanding, notably by decreasing fanaticism and prejudice and encouraging education for peace, human rights and democratic values.

As the signatories stressed yesterday, the Granada II process is at present the only Israeli-Palestinian meeting and working forum to remain open.

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