Israeli and Palestinian mothers gather for peace by Dead Sea
Israeli and Palestinian women wave their flags as they take part in an inaugural event of a peace partnership on the shore of the Dead Sea near the West Bank city of Jericho ABBAS MOMANI AFP

Israelis and Palestinians braved wind and rain to hold a "peace conference" Friday by the Dead Sea bringing together two major women's movements from both sides for the first time.

Hundreds of activists from the Palestinian initiative "Women of the Sun" and Israeli movement "Women Wage Peace" shared in the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, planted flags on the Dead Sea's shore and vowed to carry on the push for peace despite the stagnation of political talks.

"As women, when we start to sit and speak about our children and about life, we feel like we've known each other for a long time," Layla Sheikh from Bethlehem in the West Bank told AFP.

"We can understand each other's suffering and share it," she said.

"I hope that by coming together, we will prevent the loss of live," said Pascale Chen from Tel Aviv.

"In 10 days, my son will go for military service. He has to do his duty… but still we are mothers all together. We feel we have a role to play in peace," she said.

Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have largely ground to a halt.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who opposes Palestinian statehood, has ruled out formal peace talks during his tenure, but says he is committed to expanding economic opportunities for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Ties between Israel and the Palestinian Authority led by president Mahmud Abbas have showed signs of thawing in recent months, following a series of high-level meetings, including Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosting Abbas at his home.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is to travel to Israel and the West Bank next week to hold talks with the leadership from both sides.

© 2022 AFP