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Israelis, Palestinians Live Work and Learn Together in DC

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced the relaunch of direct talks betwen Palestinian and Israeli leaders to begin in September.

But as Sabri Ben-Achour reports, one group of Israelis and Palestinians here in DC have beat them to it.

"I'm Liel Maghen I'm 25 years old."

"I'm Hanan Abu Shanab and I'm 20 years old."

Maghen - he's Israeli, Abu Shanab is Palestinian, they are part of a group of 10 students who came to DC to live, learn, and work together this summer.

"This is the first time I had this amount of interaction with Israelis who were not active service at a checkpoint," Shanab says.

They worked together, had to come up with speeches on the conflict - together - and just hang out together.

Maghen lived with a host family and a Palestinian named Jacob.

"I think the beauty was just we went to dinner, come back, talking. The best was our family went on vacation and it was just me and him. Sometimes I cook for him, sometimes he cook for me," Maghen says.

There were difficult moments, for everyone, but the idea was really just to change perceptions. And it did.

"To be able to say I have an Israeli friend, truly, is very significant," Shanab says.

Paul Costello is the man behind this program, called New Story Leadership.

"You need a story to have a conflict," he says. "If I’m gonna fight you you have to be an enemy. You have to be an antagonist I have to tell a story about you that alienates you from your humanity or stops me from feeling any compassion."

So he, and these young people, are writing a new story.

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