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One Million Voices for peace

Press Release: Over Half a Million Palestinian & Israeli Signatories Demand Uninterrupted Negotiations, Two-State Solution
OVER HALF A MILLION PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI SIGNATORIES DEMAND UNINTERRUPTED NEGOTIATIONS, TWO-STATE SOLUTION

DEADLINE SET BY THE PEOPLE: TWO STATE AGREEMENT BY OCTOBER 18, 2008

Jericho/Tel Aviv, September 19, 2007 —Today, the OneVoice Movement, a youth-led mainstream nationalist movement with parallel operations in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, announced that it had exceeded its original goal of recruiting half a million Palestinian and Israeli citizens as signatories of a mandate demanding a two-state solution. The OneVoice Mandate calls on Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to start immediate, uninterrupted negotiations until a comprehensive two-state solution is reached.

As of the latest audit on September 17, 2007, 536,443 Israeli and Palestinian signatories (262,008 Israelis and 274,435 Palestinians) have joined the movement. Having exceeded its goal of recruiting half a million Palestinians and Israelis in roughly equal numbers four months earlier than planned, OneVoice aims to get to One Million citizen signatories by the end of 2007.

The groundswell of Israeli and Palestinian citizens committing themselves to the movement will gather on an unprecedented scale on October 18th, 2007, when OneVoice will host the One Million Voices to End the Conflict people’s summits. The summits will be held simultaneously in Jericho and Tel Aviv, and linked via satellite to international “echo” events in London, Washington D.C. and Ottawa. Hundreds of thousands are expected to participate, showing their solidarity in support of a two-state solution and demanding accountability to the will of the people.

The Mandate sets a deadline for the Heads of State to achieve an agreement no later than October 18, 2008, one year from the date of the peoples’ summit.

“While risky, setting a deadline is vital to send a message that business as usual is no longer acceptable to the people. Every minute delayed in ending the conflict is a minute gained by forces of militant absolutism committed to erase the possibility of a two-state solution,” said Daniel Lubetzky, Founder of the OneVoice Movement.

“If the Israeli and Palestinian Heads of State demonstrate progress over the coming months, they will be able to eventually reverse the debacle in Gaza, by pointing to a positive alternative that will undermine extremism,” added Lubetzky. “But if they don’t, the opposite will happen and fundamentalist extremist ideologies will spread to the West Bank, and eventually Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the world.”

“The voice of the people is the critical element in reaching a viable solution for the region that has been missing in the resolution process thus far,” said Dr. Fathi Darwish, General Director of OneVoice Palestine. “If the Palestinian people want to end the occupation, and if the Israeli people want to ensure security and normalization with the Arab world, then each individual must play a real role to bring that about.”

Through a series of groundbreaking negotiations held among Palestinian, Israeli and international experts and advisors, OneVoice revealed that a hidden consensus amongst the people exists on the basis of a two-state solution. 76% of both Israelis and Palestinians are in favor of a two-state solution, and would be willing to compromise to live in strong, independent, stable states at peace with their neighbors. Building off of these Citizens Negotiations is the OneVoice Mandate, which calls upon the region’s elected representatives to:

Recognize the right of both peoples to independence, sovereignty, freedom, justice, dignity, respect, national security, personal safety, and economic viability,
Implement concrete confidence-building measures that will improve the lives of the Palestinian and Israeli people, including ensuring freedom of movement for ordinary civilians and fostering education against incitement on both sides, and
Immediately commence uninterrupted negotiations until reaching an agreement, no later than October 18, 2008, for a Two-State Solution, fulfilling the consistent will of the overwhelming majority of both populations.
Founded after the Oslo process collapsed in the aftermath of the Camp David II negotiations, and frustrated with years of stalemated negotiations, violent conflict, and continued terror and occupation, OneVoice works to mobilize the moderate majority, which has been heretofore silent against the forces of violent extremism.

“If the people of Israel and Palestine want to end the conflict, they must create a support system for the peace process,” said Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who announced he is joining the OneVoice Movement’s Honorary Board. “The events on October 18th represent a potential tipping point for OneVoice’s longstanding commitment to seize back the agenda from violent extremism by mobilizing the vast numbers of moderate citizens on both sides.”

Rabbi David Rosen, Chairman of the International Jewish Committee, also a member of the Honorary Board, added, “This is not a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It's not a conflict between Muslims and Jews. The real conflict is between the moderates on both sides against violent extremism that seeks to wreak havoc and hopelessness.”

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By One Million Voices for Peace www.onemillionvoices.org/?gclid=CPTiyffW9Y4CFRFUYQodwwZHOg
 
 

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Re: One Million Voices for peace

How is OneVoice different from other ‘peace’ groups?
We are dedicated to conflict resolution. Israelis and Palestinians at a grassroots level want to find a resolution to this conflict and agree in broad terms on the parameters for that resolution. It is not because they like and love each other, but because after so many years of conflict, they recognise that to guarantee their own freedom, security and viability, they have to assure that also for the other side. We are committed to mobilizing people behind this belief to affect real change. On top of this, we are a grassroots, non-partisan joint Israeli-Palestinian organization – not imposing ideas from above, but helping people on the ground find and frame their own answers.

Why do you believe in a Two-State Solution?
OneVoice does not hold its own agenda or views for how any peace agreement will look – we are simply codifying the views of the masses. The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, according to all major polls, agree that a Two-State solution is the only way to end this conflict and therefore we support this stance.

Who funds OneVoice?
Individuals, trusts and foundations – Israeli, Palestinian and international. A lot of our funding comes from Arab-Americans and Jews, while major foundations such as the Ford Foundation, IBM and the Rockefeller Brothers also support us. Businessmen in the region such as Yasser Mahmoud Abbas and Samer Khoury are amongst our Board members who give annually. We are trying to secure government funding from the U.S.A and Europe and a variety of organizations committed to democracy and conflict resolution support our work. In addition, OneVoice groups in both Canada and Europe are creating local chapters to help support our work in the Middle East.

Is it really a joint movement? Are both sides really represented?
This is the most commonly asked question by people on either side. Each side perceives that the other lacks a contingent of moderates willing to lead their people to compromise. Exactly the same amount of money goes into programming in Israel as it does in Palestine and the Israeli and Palestinian offices work on an even keel to define policy.
What many people are unable to see, which we uniquely can, is that whether on the left or on the right, Israeli or Palestinian, the overwhelming majority on both sides affirmed they would choose co-existence and mutual respect over co-extermination and mutual ruination, and, importantly, in spite of any apprehensions or skepticism they share, they ultimately express a commitment and desire to participate with us.

Do you really think you can have an impact?
Yes. This is not to say that it will be easy, or indeed that it is likely. Many clever and committed people have tried and failed in this field. There is consensus and people do want to resolve this conflict, if their potential is unleashed, change will occur and the conflict will be resolved. We are working to mobilize people to both demand more of their leaders and support their leaders in steps toward conflict resolution. History shows us that when the majority wants something it can be achieved as the leaders` legitimacy is derived from this majority. OneVoice is working on activating people to ask their leaders in a democratic way to implement their will.

At a minimum, we are confident that we can achieve the following:


Inject well-grounded hope to an atmosphere of hopelessness;
Demonstrate to each side that many on the other side share principles of respect, humanity and reason;
Give people a stake in process, making it their business to work for progress;
Help people recognize the need for - and learn the art of - compromise;
Inspire others to take steps to let the voice of sanity be heard, and to be pro-active about the struggle for co-existence;
Establish some common ground and build some understanding.


What are your main, day-to-day programs and activities?
The nature of grassroots work is to engage the masses. We reach out to people in order to try to engage them and get them to raise their voices in support of moderation. There is a great deal of consensus to compromise, but people have to come to terms with these difficult compromises. We encourage this through Town Hall meetings, youth leadership programs (that include intensive workshops and training seminars), public service announcements, mass meetings and events and a variety of other methods. Much of our work is face to face and about getting people to understand how they can channel their frustration toward positive change.

What is the Citizen Negotiation Platform and how does it work?
It was created by a broad panel of religious, community and political leaders with experience in this field – it includes Israelis, Palestinians and others. They came together and broke the conflict down into its 10 most seemingly intractable areas of dispute – see below – and posed potential resolutions to these areas.

Israelis and Palestinians were then asked – through several rounds of voting – to voice their opinions on these resolutions through an innovative weighted voting system. Where there was no consensus between Israelis and Palestinians, the council of experts was asked to come up with new solutions, based on feedback from the average Israeli and an average Palestinian. Thus a negotiation system was created to engage citizens on both sides and build a popular mandate for peace.

Issues voted on:
End of conflict
Education and reconciliation
Refugees
Holy Sites
Jerusalem
Security
End of Occupation and Terror
Settlements
Borders
Two state solution



What is your youth leadership program?
Our Youth Leadership Program trains the brightest young Israelis and Palestinians in the skills necessary to be leaders in their own communities. It is designed to build a human infrastructure through which to create a real movement for change and to engage all Israelis and Palestinians in our work.

What is your International Education Program?
This program allows Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders to tell students, politicians and religious groups outside the Region about the realities of living in Israel and Palestine – realities they do not see in the media. It is designed to get the support of the outside world for our work and help those outside the Region avoid polarization, extremism and hatred in their own communities due to our conflict. To be involved when we visit your community email jake (at) OneVoiceMovement.org.

Why haven’t we heard of OneVoice?
We push all our resources toward engaging members of each population rather than looking for publicity. The media tends not to cover our work because it is not as gripping perhaps as a terrorist bomb, but they should – we need more coverage to help spread our message.

How can I help?
Do something. If you can’t support us financially, you know someone who can.
If you can’t get anything published about us, you know someone who can.
We need to get people to hear about our work – there are so many trips to the Region that we want to visit our offices, there are so many bright people around the world and in the Region that are unfamiliar with us yet or aren’t involved – help us get to them. In addition, we are opening local offices in London and Canada – we have chapters across the States as well as, of course, in the Region. Join and help!

What is your definition of "extremists" and "moderates"?
"Extremists" in the OneVoice platform is a word reserved to those who would completely deny the humanity of the other and would resort to violent terror and intimidation as a means to obliterate the other side, to derail or preclude any negotiating effort or dialogue, and to achieve absolutist terms that deny the other side any existential rights. Having views that are regarded in certain political circles as "extreme" does not make one an "extremist" for purposes of this initiative. Indeed, it is critical that the broadest number of people from all spectrums be integrated into this inclusive undertaking. The only people OneVoice will exclude are those opposed to a constructive process that respects the humanity of the other.
OneVoice defines "moderates" as the overwhelming majority of human beings on both sides of the conflict that, when faced with a choice between prosperity and co-existence on the one side, and enduring animosity and violence on the other, will choose co-existence.

Even if you reach them, how are you going to get thousands or millions to agree if you cannot even get two leaders to agree?
We have already successfully had around 120,000 people – half Israeli, half Palestinian find consensus on all the issues at the heart of the conflict. It can be done. It is being done.
It is arguably easier to achieve a general consensus on key points through weighed voting by thousands of individuals who actively express their needs and prerogatives in a constructive platform, than for two leaders with decades of entrenched animosity, pressure from partisan voices, and intimidating historical responsibility to their constituents to reach a conclusive agreement. People will only be called upon to vote on issues in general terms and not extreme specificity. They will only need to represent their own views and not carry the weight of an entire nation. And they are not constrained by their pasts, their political positions, nor are they answerable to special interest groups, minority parties, or perceived popular will.

Is this an attempt to impose a Western solution on a uniquely Middle Eastern problem?
The OneVoice solution is coming FROM the Middle East; it is not being "imposed" on anyone...HUNDREDS of Palestinians and Israelis were involved in its inception and now TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND are members; it is shaped according to what people who live in the region believe will work. In this regard, OneVoice provides a completely new and neutral gateway towards a concrete consensus that is not linked to any specific existing power entity. Therefore, individuals will be working, from grass roots up, through a non-biased platform wherein results and legitimacy will be created solely by their own participation.

Why OneVoice?
OneVoice was launched because we recognized that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians and Israelis want to find a resolution to the conflict but the majority of these people have been disenfranchised, fallen petty to external fears and hatreds, or do not have access to the political process. In turn, the media’s focus on the tragedies, violence, and hatred has achieved the extremists’ objectives, propagating a new level of hatred and misunderstanding. Currently, there is no platform for individuals to voice their disapproval for this extremism and violence, or engage in a constructive process to achieve a shared vision for the future. A platform is desperately needed to give voice to the silent majority who want constructive solutions. Thus, a political situation necessitates MASS MOVEMENT from the people to provide support and guidance to politicians/leadership and send a public message that the majority of people want to coexist. The political process is deadlocked and people feel hopeless. We must change that by bypassing it.

How Can I Get In Touch?
Email info (at) OneVoiceMovement.org and you will be directed to the right person.
 

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