Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres greet visitors to the site, offering support for young leaders.
Among them are some 1,000 young Iraqis, 3,500 Israelis, 500 Saudis, 2,500 Palestinians, 1,000 Tunisians, 250 Lebanese and citizens of pretty much every country in the strife-torn and scarred region.
Ya-La, a play on several Semitic words, including the Arabic “yalla” (lets go!) “ya allah,” (good God!) and the Hebrew ya’aleh (“to rise”) is a hybrid popular-uprising-cum-establishment-fostered initiative that is attempting to motivate young middle easterners who feel alienated from the machinations of their leaders to feel a stake in their region’s future.
The conference was conceived by the President of the Peres center, Uri Savir, and by his counterpart, Salah ElAyan of YaLa Palestine.
“I believe that there is urgent need for change towards peace in the middle East” Savir told GolbaPost. “And I don’t think that change can come from the existing political leadership.”
“The two agents for change in this region are the young generation and the internet. This has been proven by the social transformation of the Arab Spring and also by the Israeli protest movement. So we decided to bring these two forces together to work for peace.”
YaLa was previously the source of controversy when The New York Times featured it in an article that critics said overstated YaLa's Palestinian representation.