Diplomacy and Demining: A Step Forward in Landmine Removal

in Program

On Monday, Israel’s Knesset unanimously passed
groundbreaking legislation to establish the first national mine action authority
to begin clearing landmines inside Israel.  Daniel Yuval, a 12 year old
victim of a landmine accident, witnessed this vote. Says Stimson’s Chair,
Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., “We were proud to host Israel’s Youth
Ambassador Daniel Yuval along with Jerry White, head of the Campaign for a
Mine-Free Middle East, and others last year in an effort to bring
this very compelling story to Washington’s attention as it was unfolding in
Israel.” Video and information about the event can be found below. Please read
Jerry White’s op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, Clearing
Mines and Hearts
, for more information.

More than 500,000 landmines and other explosive remnants of war contaminate over 200 million square meters of land in Israel. When eleven-year old Daniel Yuval lost his leg to one of those landmines last February, in the Golan Heights, the Israeli public woke up to the need to demine these remnants of war. This year, 73 Knesset Members from all political parties in Israel co-sponsored new legislation to establish a humanitarian demining authority to clear all nonoperational minefields. The bill has received widespread support from the Israeli public, Knesset and leading officials. In the coming weeks, members of the Knesset Defense and Security Committee will propose a final version of the legislation for public reading and vote for passage in 2011. On December 1, 2010, Landmine survivors Daniel Yuval and Jerry White and a delegation from Israel, along with a US official overseeing similar efforts worldwide, discussed that country’s initiative to establish a national policy to remove landmines from non-operational minefields, within a specified timeframe, and in accordance with international humanitarian mine action standards.

Part 1 – Daniel Yuval & Jerry White

Part 2 – Jerry White

Part 3 – Dhyan Or

Part 4 – Heidi Kuhn

Part 5 – Motti Biran

Part 6 – Pini Dagan

Part 7 – James Lawrence

Part 8 – Justin Brady (UNMAS Deputy Director)

Part 9 – Kerei Ruru (UNMAT-GO Programme Manager )



Biographies of the Panelists

Daniel Yuval is the Youth Ambassador for a Mine-Free Israel. He is eleven years old, studying in the sixth grade at Golan Elementary School in Ramat-Hasharon. He lost his leg below the knee to a landmine in Mount Avital nature reserve in the Golan Heights on February 6, 2010.

Major General (res.) MK Matan Vilnai is the Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, and a member of the Knesset for the Labor Party. MG Vilnai was formerly Minister of Science, Culture and Sport. As MG in the IDF, Vilnai served as the head of the Manpower Directorate, and as the Deputy Chief of Staff.

Jerry White is a recognized leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace. He currently serves as the International Chair for a Mine-Free Middle East, working from Malta in a volunteer capacity for Roots of Peace.

Heidi Kuhn is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Roots of Peace. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley in Political Economics of Industrial Societies, Kühn has received several awards and recognitions for her vision and work creating a humanitarian organization with a mission to build “peace from the ground up.”

Brigadier General (res.) Motti M. Biran is Chairman and CEO of MicroSpark, a privately held company developing explosive trace detection technology. He served in the IDF as Chief of Staff of Central Command and Chief of the Military Police after spending a career in the Combat Engineering Corps.

Colonel (res.) Pini J. Daganis the managing partner of Quadro Projects & Technologies, Ltd, a company specializing in clearance of explosive remnants of war and is an official contractor of the Ministry of Defense. Dagan was formerly Israel’s Military Attaché in Argentina, Head of IDF Combat Engineering Corps School, and Chief Combat Engineering Corps Officer for the IDF Northern Command.

Dhyan Or is Country Director for Israel and Coordinator of the Mine-Free Israel Coalition. The coalition includes members from civil society, local and national government, private sector and landmine survivors from across the country.

James F. Lawrence is Director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs. This office represents the US and manages humanitarian mine action activities worldwide, and sustains public-private partnerships with NGOs supporting landmine removal, mine risk awareness and victim assistance.

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