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TEL AVIV, Israel, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- President Barack Obama called for young Israelis to pressure their leaders and "create the change that [they] want to see," telling them "peace is possible" through a two-state solution in his speech at the Jerusalem International Conference Center on Thursday.
"Negotiations will be necessary, but there's little secret about where they must lead: two states for two peoples," Obama said, but "[p]olitical leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks."
Just outside the Conference Center, dozens of OneVoice Israel's (OVI) youth leaders approached Israeli citizens on the streets of Jerusalem and collected hundreds of commitments to end the conflict on a giant "treaty" poster.
OneVoice empowers the grassroots to connect with their elected leaders on the ground in Israel and Palestine every day. Since 2002, OneVoice has championed an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a grassroots push for the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders after ending the occupation and solving all final status issues in accordance with international law and previous bilateral agreements.
The president noted the difficulties each side has faced during the ongoing conflict.
"I know Israel has taken risks for peace," Obama said of Israeli efforts for peace. "Brave leaders -- Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin -- reached treaties with two of your neighbors. You made credible proposals to the Palestinians at Annapolis. You withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon and then faced terror and rockets. Across the region, you've extended a hand of friendship, and all too often you've been confronted with rejection."
Additionally, President Obama noted the difficulties the Palestinian people face.
"It's not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands or restricting a student's ability to move around the West Bank or displace Palestinian families from their homes," Obama continued. "Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land."
In response to the president's comments today, OneVoice Co-Founder Daniel Lubetzky emphasized the essential role that the grassroots play in ending the conflict.
"At the end of the day, the power rests with the people – and primarily with the Israelis and Palestinians who will live with the consequences of their action or inaction," said Lubetzky. "The people on the ground, and their international supporters, have the power – and the responsibility that comes with it – to be part of the solution, to build positive facts on the ground and make two states for two peoples a reality."
OneVoice seeks to amplify the voices of average Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward a two-state solution. The Movement works to forge consensus and build a human infrastructure capable of mobilizing the people to hold their leadership accountable for establishing a negotiated, comprehensive, and permanent agreement that ends the occupation, ensures security and peace for both sides, and solves all final-status issues in accordance with international law and previous bilateral agreements. OneVoice focuses on civic engagement, youth leadership training, and public awareness campaigns to empower the grassroots to exercise their rights – and responsibility – to demand change and a peaceful future.
Tal Harris, executive director, OneVoice Israel
Josh Nerpel, deputy director, OneVoice International
Tel. +1-212-897-3985, ext.147