DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- 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
[http://assets.onevoicemovement.org/video/wef/ramallah.html] -- 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
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
"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:
Whole session can be seen via webstream, please copy and paste the
following link into your browser:
Or look for Session: Enough is Enough: Israel and the Palestinian
Territories from main webcast page:
TEL AVIV: Raluca Ganea & Nissim Duek, tel +972 3 6874055, cell +972 54
668 0085; firstname.lastname@example.org
RAMALLAH: Nisreen Shaheen, tel +972 2 295 1379, cell +972 599 328 741;
NEW YORK: Shelley Shick, tel +1 212 897 3985 x103;
SOURCE OneVoice Movement