Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Israel: Knesset's Two-State Solution Caucus Launches Amid Political Shakeup

OneVoice joined opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) and several Knesset members in Jerusalem on Monday to launch the first ever Two-State Solution Caucus, amid major political shakeups that threatened to further deadlock peace efforts.

The caucus was conceived and co-created by OneVoice Israel (OVI)—the local arm of the international grassroots movement OneVoice—and MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), chairman of the State Control Committee and himself a former OVI youth leader. It aims to forge a moderate bloc within the Knesset committed to the two-state solution and keep pressure on the Israeli government to achieve this goal.

"We, at Kadima, are committed to setting out a genuine vision, not like the double dealing you have seen from other MKs today," said Livni, in her remarks to the caucus. "The only way to ensure a democratic Jewish state is through the idea of two states… The public will support this when they realize that this is a clear Israeli interest, not a matter of right or left."

Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman, a staunch supporter of the caucus, cancelled his speech at the event following his resignation. Two other Labor Cabinet ministers quit their positions, taking the party out of the hawkish coalition government.

"Barak abandoned the Labor Party long before his resignation when he joined forces with a leadership utterly complacent about the urgency of the peace process," said Braverman. "In the vacuum created by this government, civil society in Israel, including the commendable effort by OneVoice Israel in setting up the caucus, has stepped up in defense of the two-state solution and Israel's long-term security."

Stalled peace talks and increasingly hard-line government positions left many Israeli politicians disillusioned and eager to restore conviction in the principle of two states for two peoples.

Among the other caucus members are MK Nino Abesadze, Zeev Bielski, Shlomo Molla, Nachman Shai, and Orit Zuaretz. All of them have united under a nonpartisan body to advance a direct political solution with the Palestinians.

"We all know the outline of the agreement, but what is missing is a courageous leadership that can make the hard decisions both here in Israel and the Palestinian Authority," said Caucus Chairman Hasson. "Both parties need to recognize that we aren't going to get our full dream, but together we may be able to get the best part of it."

OVI is supporting the event to bolster the existing political will in Israel to end the conflict, witnessed recently by the meeting held between a delegation of 100 leading Israelis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

"We deserve more than a government that threatens to fall apart if you dare to present a political program," said OVI Executive Director Tal Harris. "You can be sure that most Israelis and Palestinians are prepared for a genuine compromise in order to end the conflict. We are here to support a government that will lead us on such a political process and it is incumbent upon us to reject any government that will avoid making a decision on this matter."

Dozens of OVI youth leaders participated in the event. Representatives from the American, British, Jordanian, and Japanese embassies, along with the heads of top Israeli civil society organizations attended the launch at the Knesset's Jerusalem Hall.

Quartet Representative Tony Blair, Lord Greville Janner, honorary vice president of the World Jewish Congress, and American businessman Charles Bronfman all wrote letters supporting the caucus' urgent mission. Former Palestinian Authority minister and senior Fatah member Sufian Abu Ziada also expressed his support for the caucus.

Source: The OneVoice Movement