Organisations dedicated to permanent regional scientific cooperation can drive forward peace in the Middle East, says Michael Greene.
Direct communication, especially between Israel, Jordon and Palestine, is currently limited to interactions between government officials and members of a few professions.
But scientific communities have the political freedoms and essential international channels to allow them to meet and communicate throughout the region, says Greene.
Existing grant programmes such as the Middle East Regional Cooperation programme sponsored by the US Agency for International Development, support research collaborations between Israelis and Palestinians. But such initiatives do not have a permanent impact on overall peace — when funding ends, so does cooperation, argues Greene.
He suggests alternative regional efforts to improve prospects for peace including: a Middle East Association for the Advancement of Science; a web portal in which students and researchers could exchange information on key topics such as nutrition and water; a network of technical universities; multinational research centres focused on local issues such as the Dead Sea; and an industrial incubator that could attract Israeli–Arab partnerships.