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Peacebuilding Through Cooperation in Health Care and Public Health Between Israel and Palestine

Linda Young Landesman, Robert A. Rubinstein, Robert A., Brian S. Englander

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, May 2023

Robert A. Rubinstein

Robert A. Rubinstein

In times of crisis, such as the Hamas-Israel war, there is a natural human reaction to withdraw from constructive approaches to conflict and to rely on punitive actions. It is because of this tendency that a full-throated endorsement of support for those who wish to take constructive actions, such as cooperating on shared public health goals, needs to be supported. Israel and Palestine are interdependent, sharing borders and epidemiological risks regarding environmental health, climate change, and during outbreaks of infectious disease. The health of one affects the health of the other, which emboldens the need to find ways to improve the health of both peoples. When the war between Hamas and Israel ends, cooperative actions will be critically needed.

In 2023, we submitted to the American Public Health Association (APHA) a proposed policy, developed over 2.5 years, which called for an application of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) “Global Health Peace Initiative (GHPI)” model for using public health as a mechanism for peacebuilding. In this approach, health initiatives bring “rival parties” together to work toward mutually beneficial objectives from a neutral starting point. In other conflict settings, like or similar programs supported public health and health care cooperation to build the conditions for peace, while resulting in improved health for those in the region.

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