When it comes to Israel-Palestine, true naivety is believing in endless war

It is not naive to know that the only route to justice and equality is peace.

A family photo at Borgo Egnazia resort during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region
After years of ignoring the conflict last week, the G7 released a communique which included unprecedented new language prioritising civil society peacebuilding as a critical component of any diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, write Maoz Inon and Aziz Abu Sarah [Ludovic Marin/AFP]

We are an Israeli and a Palestinian who forged an “unlikely” friendship when the world expected us to hate each other.

One of us lost his parents on October 7, the other lost his brother in the first Intifada. It was this mutual loss, pain and shared vision that brought us together.

We recognise that our loss, but also our friendship, is the result of the absence of peace. We’re unusual, but by no means unique. We are part of a community of Israelis and Palestinians who have different nationalities, religions and narratives. But a shared identity: it’s called peacebuilder.

We have often been marginalised by many – both at home and abroad – as “naive”. But last week at the G7 Summit in Apulia, world leaders finally recognised that what is truly naive is to imagine that any strategy to end this horrific conflict can succeed without people like us at the vanguard.

Before this point, we had grown used to being  labelled “naive” for believing that more wars, pain, and loss won’t make anybody secure or free. While generals and militants who believe that one more round of violence, and one more generation of bereaved and traumatised people – after a century of nothing else but that, will bring security or liberation – are feted as realists. Why, after so many years of this failed formula resulting in escalating violence, death and destruction, are its proponents not the ones branded as “naive” or worse?

It is not naive to know that the only route to justice and equality is peace. The route is straightforward. We must create hope when hope is hard to find. We must amplify the voices of peacemakers. We must show that we are not divided by nationality, ethnicity or race. We are divided by those who believe in justice, peace and equality and those who don’t – yet.

Our plan includes letting go of our bitterness, hate, and the desire for revenge. Both of us have embarked on journeys of forgiveness. Hatred is a corrosive force, leaving one empty inside. It breeds physical and emotional illness, with nothing that can quench the thirst of such desire. We’ve come to understand that forgiveness, unlike reconciliation, is a personal choice. It is a decision we make not because the perpetrators deserve it, but because we prioritise our shared humanity over animosity. We forgive because we refuse to allow others to exploit our pain to justify harming innocent individuals.

While we are prepared to forgive the past and present, what we cannot forgive is a bleak future trapped in endless violence. We are not doomed to an everlasting cycle of violence. We believe that we can alter our reality. And it’s that hope that we hold onto every morning and that gives us strength to achieve our mission.

We are aware of the deafening language of bombs and the fear and anger on the streets. We are also angry, but we transform our anger into a fuel for our activism. We cannot allow the sounds of weapons to be the only language spoken. We cannot stand by as thousands endure the same loss and pain we have. Our voices must be heard. We provide an alternative vision for this land from the river to the sea and know that it can be achieved within a few years.

We are fortunate to be part of a community of Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders – some of whom have experienced loss like us, all of whom are as earnestly committed as we are – who have been tirelessly working for a long time.

World leaders, who have, for too long, allowed the status quo to fester from afar, aware of the bubbling below the surface but distant enough to ignore the smell of the smoke rising, would be naive to think that we can return to conflict management, provide weapons to “keep the peace,” and build broken piers to feed the starving children.

However – finally – this past week we saw a glimmer of hope. Hope that the “free world” is finally listening to us, and recognising the urgency for new, inclusive ideas.

After years of ignoring the conflict, with four of the last five G7 communiques failing to mention it at all, last week, the G7 released their communique which included unprecedented new language prioritising civil society peacebuilding as a critical component of any diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Over the past month, we joined the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) in leading a global coalition united in calling for this new approach from the G7. The call, echoed by over 350 NGOs, His Holiness Pope Francis, members of the British and European parliaments – was a simple one: do not talk about peace without those Palestinians and Israelis who have dedicated their lives – as we have – to seeking peace.

And, they listened. For the first time in history, the G7 released a communique that centres on civil society peacebuilding and the vital work of local peace NGOs, which are absolutely crucial to help solve this conflict.

We want to thank these leaders for, finally, doing the right thing. For finally recognising the critical role that grassroots organisations have to play in any long-term, sustainable peace process. For making sure that peace is not an afterthought. While every previous round of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy has lacked a “bottom-up” strategy this new policy represents a true turning point.

But this is only the beginning. G7 leaders must now work with us to turn this policy shift into real progress. To develop strategies that can fulfil the promise of this new policy shift which will allow us – the peacebuilders – to lead in shaping a new reality, where the horrors and injustices of recent months are never allowed to recur.

Our call for peace arises not from naivety, but out of a profound understanding of the cost of conflict. We have tasted the pain, experienced the loss and witnessed the devastation firsthand. Nevertheless, we hold onto the belief that a future where Israelis and Palestinians coexist in peace and equality is possible. We are modelling what peace between Israelis and Palestinians can be like. If we are able to reconcile, work together and care for each other, we know that our nations can, too. We look forward to working with G7 leaders to ensure this vision becomes a reality.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.