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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Antarctic setting for Mid-East peace bid
Polar explorers
Polar expeditions need extreme endurance
A group of Israelis and Palestinians aim to prove that the two communities can work together - by staging a joint expedition to Antarctica.

The project - called "Breaking The Ice" - will take the eight-member team from Patagonia in southern Chile to the top of an unnamed peak.

The man behind the idea, 41-year-old Heskel Nathaniel, wants to show that people can work together as individuals, despite their troubled recent history.

"In the Antarctic, there is no way to turn back," Mr Nathaniel told the BBC.

The four Israelis and four Palestinians come from a variety of backgrounds.

Two of the Israelis are former members of elite commando unit of the Israeli army, and one of the Palestinians served three years in prison for firebombing Israeli troops.

"They not all 'peaceful pigeons'," says Mr Nathaniel.

Snow training

Enthusiasm and commitment is more important than a track record in polar exploration. Although expedition leader Doron Erel is a professional mountain climber, and Mr Nathaniel is an outdoor adventurer the rest of the team has no experience of sub-zero conditions.

Heskel Nathaniel
Nathaniel: "Win as a team, or fail together"
The expedition practised sea manoeuvres off Tel Aviv last weekend, and for snow training they will fly to the French Alpine resort of Chamonix in November.

The eight will set sail from Chile on New Year's Day, and pass through the Drake Passage before making landfall in Antarctica.

They will then climb a previously unscaled mountain, and name it.

As for choosing a name, "we have about 20 days to discuss that en route", says Mr Nathaniel.

The expedition is the first organised by Extreme Peace Missions, a charity that aims to bring people together through adventure and sporting endeavours.

Heskel Nathaniel does not believe individual differences or tensions will be able to surface in such an environment.

"We're either going to win as a team, or fail together. We have to learn to understand each other, and to co-operate," he says.

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