During the course of a Middle East Peace Initiative fact-finding tour, a commentator for Israeli Television, Ehud Yaari, said how opposed he was to a number of statements that had been made on the previous day's visit to Bethlehem and a Belgian Member of Parliament commented that views from both sides were so wide apart that it was difficult to understand how the two communities were even talking about the same conflict.
Those taking part in a later panel discussion on contemporary issues included Director of Israeli Radio, Yoni Ben Menachem, former Chief Economist of the Ministry of Trade, Michael Barnea, the Deputy Mayor of Bustan Hagalk, Asher Naim, 'All for Peace' radio presenter, Moshe Raz, and former US State Senator of the Utah, Howard Nielsen.
A member of the Israeli Parliament Nadia Hillou MK spoke of tensions in the Labour party in response to the possible inclusion of Avignor Lieberman's right wing Yisrael Beitaneau party in the governing coalition. She also commented that the Labour party was slow in developing a policy to improve the situation of the Palestinian people.
Dr. Terry Newman's explained a proposal for a three way land exchange that was very sophisticated and well researched. It has been received well by leading politicians in the United States, Israel and Egypt and he felt it to be gaining momentum. However Dr. Muli Peleg, the Chairman of One Voice - Israel, spoke of the great difficulties to agree on the way to make peace even among progressive liberals.
A contribution by retired General Charles Zegev focused more upon the centrality of the conflict of Iran and Saudi Arabia. It helped to better inform Europeans of the issues and the complexity of the Middle East and to explain something of the background to European's perceptions of Israelis and Palestinians. Although what he said was not always comfortable all discussions were respectful and aimed at furthering understanding. (October 2006)