A new impetus in the Middle East peace process could come "from the grassroots", from spontaneous initiatives by civil society, more than from political strategies or a realignment of regional and global power axes.
This is emphasized by the former Custos of the Franciscans in the Holy Land, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa who was named Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem by Pope Francis in early December 2020. The Patriarch reminds those who hope for positive change, new signs of peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land that "now is the time for grassroots initiatives".
In his reflections, published in the latest issue of the magazine "Information Christlicher Orient", based in Linz, the Patriarch refers to various social projects that arose spontaneously to promote cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis in civil society: in this context he mentions, among other things, the "Hand in Hand" project, a network of schools in which Israeli and Palestinian schools join forces, or the "Children without Borders" project, which promotes opportunities for shared play between Israeli and Palestinian children.
The Patriarch also refers to the Commander's for Israel's Security initiative, which brings together more than 200 retired Israeli officers, including generals, who work with their Palestinian counterparts to develop security concepts.
Patriarch Pizzaballa emphasizes the importance of cultivating and improving these seeds of peace and spontaneous cooperation at the level of civil society, considering it illusory to expect conflicts and injuries to be overcome in a short time, "because too many injustices have not yet been atoned for and too many wounds have not yet been healed".
"Information Christlicher Orient" is the press organ of "Christian Orient Initiative", an Austrian Catholic organization founded in 1989 to publicize the spiritual treasure of the Christian East and to promote projects to support Christian communities in the Middle East.