New York, October 6, 2010–Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison expressed support for OneVoice during a briefing in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, telling our Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders that they are making this world safer.
The briefing with OneVoice Israel (OVI) youth leader Danny Shaket and OneVoice Palestine (OVP) youth leader Ahmad Omeir provided an opportunity for Ellison and other United States policymakers to hear firsthand the public opinions of Israelis and Palestinians.
"I am moved by young Israelis and Palestinians working together for peace," said Ellison. "Their efforts pave the way for true cooperation and brighten the prospects for long term peace."
Congressman Ellison asked the two their thoughts on the state of current negotiations between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a question on the minds of many Americans.
Both responded that direct negotiations are the only way to achieve a two-state solution. “The [Palestinian] people want a sign of good faith,” said Ahmad, and extending Israel’s freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank would go a long way. Danny stressed the importance of “preparing Israelis for concessions”.
Danny and Ahmad stressed their commitment to working side-by-side after Congressman Ellison commented, “I know Israelis and Palestinians view each other as quite distinct, but the rest of the world views you as inextricably linked.”
“We decided to leave aside the blame game,” said Danny. “What you see in the media and what you see in reality are two different things.”
Ellison has met both Ahmad and Danny on separate occasions in the past. Ahmad met him two years ago while on a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) exchange program in Washington, D.C.. Ellison hosted Ahmad and five other Palestinians in his office and talked with them about youth movements in Palestine. Danny met Ellison last year in Tel Aviv during a briefing with other human rights organizations.
The most recent briefing between the OV youth leaders and Ellison demonstrates a concerted effort from both sides in keeping strong ties between the grassroots movement and those who shape international policy.