Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Middle East: Can People Power Save the Two-State Solution?

Foreign Affairs Shadow Minister Stephen Twigg joined OneVoice on Monday for an event at the House of Commons to explore whether people power has been the missing element in delivering a two-state solution.

Parliamentarians and concerned citizens alike packed the Wilson Room, at Portcullis House, to firsthand witness the determined optimism Tal Harris, executive director of OneVoice Israel, and Rami Rabayah, senior OneVoice Palestine youth activist, possess for achieving a two-state solution. Encouraged by the people power forever transforming the political landscape of the Middle East, they called on young Israelis and Palestinians to rise up and demand their leaders end the conflict. The New Labor pressure group, Progress, co-sponsored the event.

"This past month in the Middle East has taught us that we ignore the wishes of the people at our peril," said Twigg, who chairs Progress. "The people of the region, alongside the rest of the world, are fed up with this conflict, and I am proud to stand with OneVoice in highlighting the voices of the silent majority, who demand their leaders represent them by ending the conflict."

The event came at a time of sweeping revolts across the Arab world, led by a youthful generation demanding the right to define their future. The unrivaled power of the people to effect major change translated across borders like wildfire.

Audience members did raise concerns about the instability and uncertainty the recent events produced in the Middle East, and wondered if this was indeed the best time to push forward with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The speakers all stressed the importance of channeling this momentum to inject a new sense of urgency to achieve the two-state solution and realize the dream of a stable, secure, and prosperous Middle East.

"While I speak to you here, OneVoice Israel activists alongside other civil society groups are preparing protests in Jerusalem," said Harris. "They're demanding Prime Minster Netanyahu stops stealing their future and delivers on his promises. We want to empower all Israelis into realizing they have the power to write their future—one with two states living side by side in peace."

Rabayah announced OneVoice Palestine's plans to launch a campaign on Tuesday intended to focus the energy on the street into a deafening cry for unity toward building a Palestinian state.

"Civil society across the Middle East has shown that it has the power to move mountains and end injustice," said Rabayah. "In Palestine right now, we are asking people to recognize the power they hold as citizens, to imagine their state, and then to build it."

OneVoice will organize and participate in several events this week in Washington, D.C., London, Jerusalem, and across the West Bank to signal that now is the time for the international community to support Israelis and Palestinians in demanding accountability, vision and courage from their leaders.

"This is a once-in-a-generation moment and we need to make sure that it is seized," said John Lyndon, executive director of OneVoice Europe. "If what is sweeping the region right now can topple dictators, then it can also end occupations, establish states, and spread a culture of peace and security."

OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that aims to amplify the voice of Israeli and Palestinian moderates, empowering them to demand a two-state solution. The movement educates and trains Israeli and Palestinian youth in leadership skills, non-violent activism, and democratic principles. To support and contribute to OneVoice, join us at www.onevoicemovement.org.

SOURCE The OneVoice Movement