The Civil Society Act Beyond Borders Project is co-funded by the European Commission, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights EIDHR and was carried out in collaboration with Palestinian Dialogue Center (PDC) from West Bank and Association for Progressive Education in Honor of Meir Yaari (YAARI) from Israel.
The modern day violent conflict between Israeli and Palestinian factions has lasted for more than half a century. This conflict exists at the political as well as the civic level because there have been repeated human rights violations within the two communities which have created a culture of mistrust, hatred and demonization. The political instability that exists within and between the two communities further polarizes Israeli and Palestinian civil society. Even though the conflict is engrained in the psyche of the people, the hope from many CSOs is for peaceful co-existence and increased respect for human rights. While recent political developments have been attempting resolution, especially since the most recent outbreak of violence, there is need for strong support for CSO collaboration to advocate for positive change at the society level regarding issues ranging from human rights, cooperation, and integration to democratic representation that will shape national developmental policies and a willingness to accept the other. The time is now for the civil society actors to be supported in their efforts to be strengthened in their capacity building exercises and continued dialogue. Experts in and on the region have begun to turn to civil society as a new direction to solve the age old problem. Civil society is a possible answer to the question of how society and state can interact and reinforce each other in a manner that creates and sustains a democratic system. CSOs can play a crucial role in raising awareness about democratisation, civic participation and human rights, including rights of citizens, and in mobilising citizens to stand up for these rights and to raise support for issues of concern to their respective political leaders if supported in these endeavours. Palestinian and Israeli civil society can utilise the experience of European civil society organisations and implement its model that has had a positive effect on governments across Europe to improve the capacity of civil society in various European countries and use these in Israel and Palestine to increase the strength of democracy and human rights.
Cyprus has experienced many of these same situations over the period of its conflict. In recent years the CSOs in Cyprus have begun to work together in a collective manner to achieve what the political apparatus has not thus far, namely cooperation and trust building measures. This is why FWC has chosen to propose this action. It is oganization's strong belief that if the cypriot experience can be shared with the colleagues from Israel and the Palestinian territories, it can be developed a real change from a bottom-up approach at the civil society level. Utilising the strategies that have proved most effective from their years of conflict resolution work, namely structured dialogue and capacity building trainings for CSOs, Future Worlds Center deem it relevant to contribute to the capacity building efforts of civil society in Israel and the Palestinian territories.