TEL AVIV, Israel and RAMALLAH, Palestine, July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Against the backdrop of renewed negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Washington, D.C., members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and Palestinian Liberation Organization met in Jerusalem with Members of Knesset (MK) in the Israeli parliament for the first time.
The event, organized by OneVoice Israel (OVI) in partnership with the Knesset's Caucus for Ending the Israeli-Arab Conflict and the Negev Institute, is part of OneVoice's extensive efforts to support a sustained and successful negotiation process during the coming months.
Palestinian businessmen, politicians, and experts from academia present included: Mohammad Madani, member of Fatah Central Committee and head of the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society; Ashraf al-Ajami, PA Minister for Prison Affairs; Elias Zananiri, political adviser to the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society; Abdallah Abdallah, member of the PLC and head of the Parliamentary Committee of Political Affairs; Walid Hassan Salem, director of the Center for Democracy and Community Development; businessman Walid Al Ahmad, and Professor Mohammad Asad Awiwi.
The Palestinian party met with Israeli opposition chair MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor), MKs Yaakov Perry and Dr. Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid), MKs Zehava Galon and Isawi Frij (Meretz), as well as representatives of Shas and Hadash, with a total of 33 MKs—nearly one-third of the Knesset—present to witness the historic meeting, which saw the Israeli and Palestinian flags proudly displayed together on stage.
"We'll do everything on our side, and you do everything on yours, to overcome obstacles the extremists will put in our way," Caucus Chair MK Hilik Bar told the Palestinian delegation.
Madani, leading the Palestinian delegation, reiterated to those in attendance about the challenges facing negotiators.
"The issues aren't simple, borders, refugees," he explained. "But we're overwhelmed to see the Palestinian flag here today."
This meeting follows yesterday's "Peace Tent" rally outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, also organized by OneVoice Israel. MKs Dr. Nachman Shai (Labor) and Dr. Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) were present in Jerusalem, along with various opinion leaders whom spoke to concerned citizens about why negotiations are essential.
OVI Executive Director Tal Harris, who addressed the event, said "This is a demonstration of the critical mass of both citizens and leaders that exists on both sides of the Green Line, and is committed to peace, security, and statehood for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. This is OneVoice's role. We want to show the negotiators in Washington that they have our support to make the tough compromises necessary to reach a historic deal."
OneVoice Palestine's (OVP) youth leaders in the West Bank are working in parallel to support the renewed negotiations. In Nablus, Palestinian families were brought together with OneVoice activists to discuss the negotiations and were encouraged to lend support to the Palestinian leadership in their efforts to end the occupation, while freezing the settlements activities were the focus of discussions in Bethlehem.
"We all know that the conflict will end through negotiations, but I am concerned that not sticking to the international resolutions and agreed upon references will make it hard to close a deal," said OVP Executive Director Samer Makhlouf. "We need to see serious, unbiased and honest American involvement so the two parties can agree on all final status issues."
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 and an end to the conflict and occupation. The Movement supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel. We believe that the 1967 borders with minor land swaps, a freeze in settlement activity, and the maintaining of security for both peoples are an essential basis for success. OneVoice also educates and trains Israeli and Palestinian youth in leadership skills, non-violent activism, and democratic principles.
SOURCE OneVoice Movement