On their arrival in Israel, delegates attending the latest in a series of ‘Middle East Peace Initiative’ visits met with the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, who welcomed them to the Holy Land. Conference sessions began the following morning and those taking part included the Editor of Haaretz newspaper, Akiva Eldar, a retired Israeli General Freddie Zach, Professor Sammy Smooha from the University of Haifa, former Knesset member Walid Sadik, Dutch politician Dr Pietre Beelarts, international relations consultant Drora Bendov and Richard Younger-Ross MP from the United Kingdom.
Participants attending a Middle East Peace Initiative fact-finding tour this afternoon met with the Fatah Palestinian Legislative Council member for Bethlehem, Dr. Emil Jarjoui, an d travelled with him to the West Bank under the escort of a Palestinian police car. They visited the partially constructed Al-Feneiq recreation centre which, with UN support and volunteers from Europe, is being built alongside the Dehaeshi refugee camp just outside Bethlehem.
With both Christian and Jewish biblical scholars attending the current Middle East Peace Initiative in Jerusalem, it was perhaps inevitable that some of their time would be devoted to a Jewish Christian dialogue on theological issues. It was also a logical follow-on from the conclusion of the first Middle East Peace Initiative pilgrimage back in 2003 in which Christians and Jews participating had repented together for sins and offenses committed over a long and sometimes shameful history. At the time the groups had presented themselves not with demands to seek fault in each other but rather standing together in a shared space of repentance in which all each in their own way sought forgiveness, both from on high and from one another. Participants included Rev. Dr Marcus Braybrooke, Dr Bertil Persson, Dr Frank Kaufmann and Rev Dr Michael Jenkins.