TEL AVIV, Israel, June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Almost 2,000 people gathered in 11 cities across Israel for a rally to revive the Middle East peace process and support the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the renewal of the Arab Peace Initiative on Sunday, June 23.
OneVoice Israel, along with 20 leading Israeli peace organizations including Peace Now, Geneva Initiative, the Council for Peace and Security, Ir Amim, the Parents Circle, Israeli Peace Initiative, J-Street, and more, cohosted the event in an unprecedented display of cooperation and coordination.
Eighteen members of the Knesset (MKs) and the recently launched Caucus for Ending the Israeli-Arab Conflict, along with dozens of former senior defense, political, and diplomatic officials took part in the 70 public dialogue roundtable sessions in Tel Aviv, Kiryat Shmona, Jerusalem, Haifa, Umm al-Qutuf, Ramla, Beersheba, Jaffa, Shefa-'Amr, Sderot, and Karmiel.
"The key to an agreement with the Palestinians is currently in the hands of the Prime Minister," said MK Dr. Nahman Shai of Labor. "We call upon him to move ahead, and lend our support for him to do what is essential for the future of our country."
MK Zehava Galon, chair of Meretz, criticized the "no comment policy" of the Israeli government regarding the Arab Peace Initiative and argued that "Netanyahu's statements are far from enough. Concrete action is needed."
Israeli author and Israel Prize winner, A. B. Yehoshua, delivered opening remarks and warned about the dire consequences of the freeze in negotiations and the importance of Secretary Kerry's upcoming visit.
"This paralysis in negotiations is strengthening a hope among some that the USA and the international community in general would do the hard work for us," Yehoshua said. "However, the hard reality is that salvation won't come from outside, and that we must take responsibility."
The roundtables event was one of many grassroots responses to President Barack Obama's March 21 Jerusalem speech, when the president called for real change to come from the people. The roles of the media, youth, women, and the Knesset, along with issues surrounding security, were among those discussed between the people and government officials.
MK Dr. Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) expressed his enthusiasm over the event and emphasized that "engaging the general public in thinking over and shaping the future of the peace process is vital and positive."
Dor Goldman, an Education student and youth leader at the OneVoice chapter in Seminar HaKibbutzim College, agreed.
"It was motivating to see so many Members of Knesset convene in support of our vision. Now I hope they go back to their plenary and committee rooms and translate that support into action."
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.
SOURCE The OneVoice Movement