Ordinary Palestinians and Israelis Ask World Leaders at World Economic Forum in Davos, 'What Are You Willing to Do to End the Conflict?'

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 28-Jan-07

OneVoice Movement mobilizes citizens from across Israel, West Bank and Gaza to say 'Enough!'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, And Vice Premier Shimon Peres Respond to 1,389 Activists from OneVoice Movement with Commitment: 'We will Work For A Two-State Solution'

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 25 -- In what Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, termed as the first time ever that ordinary citizens have been able to address their heads of state directly at the Forum, young leaders of the grassroots movement OneVoice were given center stage during a plenary session packed with over 2,000 dignitaries and global business leaders. At the podium, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Vice-Premier Shimon Peres each responded to both their citizens and their counterparts with candor.

Professor Schwab introduced the session by explaining, "I have the privilege to share this key session, if not the most important, at this year's meeting." He added, "We thought we should give voice to the ordinary people and you should listen."

A video-cast message from Nisreen Shaheen, the Executive Director of OneVoice Palestine -- surrounded by a large crowd of hundreds of Palestinians in Al Qasaba, the largest hall in Ramallah -- appeared on an oversized screen at the front of the forum. Her presentation followed a powerful video showing tens of thousands of OneVoice Israeli and Palestinian activists mobilizing against extremism. She said, "Enough promises, enough excuses, enough suffering ... Help us not to lose hope, help us strengthen this movement, help us strengthen our leaders, that they may sit down at the table and stand up with a fair and lasting peace agreement."

"I've never seen one Palestinian speak with such assertiveness, let alone a group of thousands standing up so clearly for their independence but also for peace," said Bertie Lubner, a Jewish businessman who was in the audience. "It definitely gave me hope that there may be a hidden majority we can talk to on the other side."

Video-cast from Tel Aviv Adi Balderman, the OneVoice Israel Leadership Program Director, stated: "Each and every one of us [needs] to take action and personal responsibility in ensuring a better future. If the millions of moderate Israelis and Palestinians each take a small step, we will unleash the power of the people and reclaim our lives." Addressing elected representatives, she said: "The time has come to listen to the voice of the moderate majority, and to prevent violent extremists from hijacking our lives, the lives of millions of Israelis and Palestinians ... We will not accept any more excuses or delays."

Karim Kawar, Ambassador to the US of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, said, "I was struck by the determination of these young women, flanked by hundreds of like minded young people you don't normally see on TV. Maybe the young leaders we've been waiting for to start standing up and doing something to end this whole mess are finally coming out."

From East Jerusalem Saed Mashaal and Eran Schafferman, OneVoice Palestinian and Israeli Youth Leaders, respectively surrounded by scores of supportive Israeli and Palestinian activists, spoke in unison to condemn violent extremism & intervention from foreign militants. Saed Mashaal said "Our city, Jerusalem, open for all religions, must help us exemplify a shared destiny for Palestinians and Israelis, a destiny of partnership for a better future. Let One Voice be heard form Jerusalem, a voice of moderate people from all over the world. Eran Schafferman said: "The fate of Israelis and Palestinians is shared and so is our conviction not to let extremist infiltrate and damage our cause for peace and prosperity."

Tzipi Livni, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, said, "After watching together these wonderful youth, after listening to President Abbas, I have a feeling of sadness for lost opportunities, but also a great feeling of hope." She added, "But it is our responsibility as leaders to give them the hope. We must make a promise and fulfill ... the vision of two states living side by side in peace." Minister Livni acknowledged deep skepticism among many that this vision can come about, but explained "We cannot fail" and emphasized the necessity of a realignment of "Moderates committed to a solution vs. extremists opposed to this vision as a matter of ideology. Because we share the same vision, moderates must fight for the same goals ... disempower extremists and empower the moderates."

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority said, "As I heard these messages, hope rose in my heart that peace is possible, and overdue." President Abbas explained he always believed in the primacy of people-to- people relations and expressed hope that "These gatherings are what will lead to peace." He stated emphatically: "I am fully convinced that in spite of all the difficulties, peace is possible." President Abbas concluded, "The time has come to garner all the forces of goodwill ... I am fully prepared to do so ... Nothing is more important than peace, so that this strategic part of the world will become an oasis of peace and stability."

Reflecting on the images of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian activists joining as OneVoice for a two-state solution, Shimon Peres, Vice Premier of Israel, said "I like to come to Davos because to me hope is like snow. It comes down from the mountain." And he emphasized that "This [Israeli] government is a two-state solution government [in terms of its policy]."

"The shift in the psychological mindset of the leaders today is of tectonic significance," said Sean Cleary, CEO of Strategic Concepts and a long-time negotiator and mediator.

In spite of very serious tensions, over the last few months, thousands of Israelis, and Palestinians from all across the West Bank and Gaza met under the auspices of the OneVoice Movement to debate and agree on statements representing mainstream nationalists from each side, people that are tired of lack of progress towards ending the conflict. The Founder of the OneVoice Movement, Daniel Lubetzky, attending the Davos session, explained: "We've been building this human infrastructure for five years, and, in spite of the horrible atmosphere, or perhaps because of it, we are gaining more members and more momentum. People are ready to stand up and say, 'Enough!'"

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Its Davos Summit is the seminal annual meeting where foremost business leaders, heads of state, and civil society leaders gather to discuss how to improve the state of the world.

OneVoice is a mainstream nationalist grassroots movement with a quarter million Israeli and Palestinian members and 2,000 highly trained youth leaders. It aims to amplify the voice of the overwhelming but heretofore silent majority of moderates who wish for peace and prosperity, empowering them to demand accountability from elected representatives and work toward a two state solution. OneVoice counts on its Board over 60 foremost dignitaries and business leaders across a spectrum of politics and beliefs, joining as OneVoice against violent extremism and for a two-state solution.

Video Footage Available at: http://assets.onevoicemovement.org/video/wef/

Whole session can be seen via webstream, please copy and paste the following link into your browser: http://gaia.world-television.com/wef/worldeconomicforum_annualmeeting2007/default.aspx?sn=19223

Or look for Session: Enough is Enough: Israel and the Palestinian Territories from main webcast page: http://www.weforum.org/annualmeeting/webcasts


TEL AVIV: Raluca Ganea & Nissim Duek, tel +972 3 6874055, cell +972 54 668 0085; [email protected]
RAMALLAH: Nisreen Shaheen, tel +972 2 295 1379, cell +972 599 328 741; [email protected]
DAVOS: Daniel Lubetzky, Cell +1 646 303 8284 [email protected]
NEW YORK: Shelley Shick, tel +1 212 897 3985 x103; [email protected]
OneVoice Movement Web site: http://www.onevoicemovement.org/


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