BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Israeli and Palestinian leaders of the Peace NGO Forum urged Argentina’s president and foreign minister to take a larger role in the Middle East peace process.
President Cristina Fernandez and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman received the group’s representatives last Friday at the Pink House government headquarters in Buenos Aires. The meeting included two Israelis and two Palestinians from Peace NGO, as well as leaders from the DAIA Jewish political umbrella, the Arab political umbrella FEARAB, the Latin American Jewish Congress, the Islamic Center of Argentina CIRA and the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish community center.
Peace NGO Forum has said it believes that coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Argentina is a good model for the Middle East and has called for Latin America to urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to make overtures for peace.
“The peace process needs Latin American participation because the United States is focused on the next elections, the European Union is focused on the economic crisis, and Latin America and the Mercosur have a successful experience with political and economic coexistence without wars,” said Meir Marglit of Peace NGO. Marglit, an Argentinian who made aliyah in 1972, is a member of the Jerusalem City Council.
Mercosur, a two-decades old regional bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, has free trade agreements with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Saman Khoury, Peace NGO’s general secretary, said following the meeting that he was “very impressed with the positive reaction from the Argentinian government.”
Government Secretary Guillermo Olivieri, who accompanied the delegation, said that it had brought “their concern and experience in the Middle East process to explain the contribution they are making and the assistance they expect to receive from Latin America."
Peace NGO also asked Fernandez to establish a peace center in Buenos Aires to solve international conflicts.