UC Irvine’s Olive Tree Initiative will host Gershon Baskin, Ph.D., for an intimate conversation about the Middle East conflict on Monday, Feb. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. in Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Room 1517. Baskin’s talk is the first in a series that will bring speakers to UC Irvine who have been involved in the Middle East peace process. The event is co-sponsored by the campus’s Center for Citizen Peacebuilding and international studies program. Baskin, an Israeli, is the founder and former co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research & Information, a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy “think-and-do tank” in Jerusalem. He was the lead initiator of the back-channel negotiations between Israel and Hamas that led to the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in October 2011. Baskin has served in Israel’s Ministry of Education and as executive director of the Institute for Education for Jewish-Arab Coexistence. He will discuss the effort to free Schalit, the possibility of a two-state solution, and lessons learned from the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace process.