As the Israel-Hamas war reaches the one-month mark, calls for a ceasefire, or at least a humanitarian pause, are growing ever louder. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is steadily worsening and the civilian death toll continues to rise amid Israel’s punishing bombing campaign and widening ground assault, sparked by the brutal terrorist attacks of Oct. 7. Meanwhile, Hamas and other groups in Gaza are still holding roughly 240 hostages, mostly Israelis, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted there will be no humanitarian pause until they are released.
What are the prospects for mediation and negotiations in the midst of this escalating conflict, and who might be involved in such efforts? What are the elements necessary to get to a ceasefire? Or to humanitarian pauses? What are realistic measures to effectively protect Palestinian civilians? What will it take to secure the release of the Israeli hostages, and is that even possible while fighting continues?
To answer these critical questions and more, MEI has assembled a panel of expert practitioners.
Professor of Public Policy, Qatar Foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Middle East Director, International Communities Organization; former Israeli hostage negotiator
Managing Partner, Husseini and Husseini LLC; legal advisor to the Palestine-Israel peace talks,; Chair, Legal Committee to Final Status Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis
Randa Slim, moderator
Senior Fellow; Director, Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues Program, Middle East Institute
Detailed Speaker Biographies
Sultan Barakat is a Professor in Public Policy at Qatar Foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University and an Honorary Professor at the University of York. He is a world-renowned scholar, known for pioneering the study of war-torn societies and their recovery. Barakat founded the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and directed it between 2016 and 2022. Previously, he served as the Director of Research at the Brookings Institutions Doha Center. At the University of York, he founded and led the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit between 1993 and 2019. Professor Barakat has been published widely in academic referred journals. His book ‘After the Conflict: Reconstruction and Development in the Aftermath of War’, published by IB Tauris, was reprinted twice, in 2005 and 2010. He has also written books on the reconstruction of both Afghanistan and Iraq. His most recent book, ‘Understanding Influence: The Use of Statebuilding Research in British Policy’ was published by Ashgate in 2014. Barakat has over 30 years of professional experience working on issues of conflict resolution, humanitarian response, statebuilding and post-conflict recovery and transition. He is regularly engaged in providing guidance as a Senior Adviser and Consultant to the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, the Red Cross and a variety of governments. He has led major evaluations, peace negotiations and programming initiatives in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines (Mindanao), Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan (Darfur), Syria, Uganda (Moyo and Adjumani) and Yemen.
Gershon Baskin was the Israeli Co-Director and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) – a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think and “do”-tank located in Jerusalem. Since January 2012 he is the Co-Chairman of IPCRI’s Board of Directors. He initiated the founding of IPCRI in 1988 following ten years of work in the field of Jewish-Arab relations within Israel, in Interns for Peace where he lived for two years in the Israeli-Palestinian village of Kufr Qara, the Ministry of Education and as Executive Director of the Institute for Education for Jewish-Arab Coexistence (established by the Israeli Ministry of Education and the Prime Minister’s Office at Baskin’s initiative). Click here for Gershon Baskin’s Professional Experience. During the Premiership of the late Yitzhak Rabin, he served as an advisor on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to a secret team of intelligence officers established by Mr. Rabin. Dr. Baskin was a member of the Jerusalem Experts Committee established by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office during the Final Status Negotiations in 2000-2001. Click here to see the advisory positions that Gershon Baskin held. He is a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum, a member of the Board of ALLMEP – the Alliance for Middle East Peace, a member of the Editorial Board of the Palestinian Israeli Journal, and a member of the Board of One Voice. Dr. Baskin is also a member of the Israeli Council for Peace and Security. He was a founding chairman of the progressive Synagogue Kehilat Kol Haneshama in Jerusalem where he served as Chairman for three years. He has a regular column in the Jerusalem Post Newspaper and was a radio host on All for Peace Radio. Dr. Baskin has been awarded the Histadrut Prize for Peace in 1996, the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute Peace Prize in 2004, the Tribute of Honor and Courage from the World Movement for Democracy in 2004 and the Search for Common Ground Journalist Award for Middle East Journalism in 2005 and 2007 as well as the Ordine Della Stella Della Solidarieta Italiana. Gershon is a founding member of Kol Ezraheiha-Kol Muwanteneiha (All of the Citizens) political party in Israel. He is now directing The Holy Land Bond and is the Middle East Director for ICO – International Communities Organization.
Hiba Husseini is the managing Partner at the Law Firm of Husseini and Husseini. Under her management, the Firm serves a large domestic and international client base on a wide range of business matters. Prior to returning to Palestine in 1994, she practiced law in Washington, DC. Husseini chairs the Legal Committee to Final Status Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. She has served as legal advisor to the peace process negotiations since 1994. She is a member of a number of local, regional and international working groups on the peace process, especially the trade and economic relations and the status of Jerusalem. Husseini participates in various meetings that seek to interject innovative thinking to the hard and complex issues involved in the peace process. She serves on the boards of various educational, professional, cultural, business, and non-profit organizations. She is a member of the Palestinian Bar Association’s International Committee. She served as the Vice Chair of the Palestine Securities Exchange from 1998- 2005. She is a founding member of Al-Mustakbal Foundation, a non-partisan organization aimed at promoting economic development and rule of law in Palestine.She has lectured in Palestine and abroad and participated in a large number of local and international conferences both on the peace process and professionally. She has written widely on the peace process, business law, rule of law and economic development.
Randa Slim is the Director of the Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues Program at the Middle East Institute and a non-resident fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced and International Studies (SAIS) Foreign Policy Institute. A former vice president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Slim has been a senior program advisor at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a guest scholar at the United States Institute of Peace, a program director at Resolve, Inc, and a program officer at the Kettering Foundation. A long-term practitioner of Track II dialogue and peace-building processes in the Middle East and Central Asia, she is the author of several studies, book chapters, and articles on conflict management, post-conflict peace-building, and Middle East politics.
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