It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to the interactive panel discussion ???The Middle East: Conflict and Hope??? on the Palestinian ??“ Israeli conflict, from its roots to the path to peace.

With roots in the 1817 Balfour Declaration and the thousands of rich years of history in the region which preceded it, followed by the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, we have all been witness to the despair and turmoil that has resulted over the past 6 decades and to the irreversible twists and turns of history that have changed these thousands of acres of land forever.

Even from the very beginning, the Palestinian and Israeli issue was never theirs alone. As the conflict has grown and evolved, first the region and then the entire international community has become more and more entwined in the conflict itself and in working to map the path forward.

We have all stood witness to multiple wars, between Israel and Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon and seen hundreds of thousands, on both sides of the divide, lose their lives, their families, and their homes. We have seen endless violence and attacks, uprisings, intifadas, as well as periods of delicate peace and shaky ???hudna??? or ceasefire. On all sides, we have heard the pleas of families, parents, and their children for the right to settle in and return to what they consider their homeland.

Our hope for the future is the global vision for coexistence, a lasting peace and, most of all, the dream that our children and our children??™s children will live in a country, a region, and a world not defined by this conflict. Despite all of our efforts and those of the international community, we still haven??™t been able to find a lasting solution to the conflict that has plagued Israel and Palestine; a conflict with the capacity to lead the world to global peace, or a global war.

Tonight, we will hear from experts on the origins of this conflict, an overview of the course that history has taken, how we have, time and time again, arrived at a tentative peace and then stumbled, and, most importantly, how we can now work towards a solution to mitigate regional conflict and start to lay a solid foundation on which we can all work to build a lasting peace. This is a groundwork on which we will lay dialogue rather than violence, results rather than merely a process or endless talks, and on which we all work to accept the terms of land for peace that we must face if we are to push our collective dreams forward.

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