New York, April 2, 2011—OneVoice Palestine (OVP) coordinated a town hall meeting in Bethlehem on March 24, bringing together members of the community to discuss the fundamentals necessary for a peace agreement.
The town hall meeting, organized by OVP activist Ibrahim Mubarak, began with OVP laying forth its core values and visions for an independent Palestinian state and blossomed into an invigorating and fruitful debate on the importance of Jerusalem and the final status issues at large. Conversation and debate are the tools that are building the foundation for a two-state solution.
“[We’re] raising the level of awareness and engagement within the local civil society,” said Ibrahim. “It’s an understanding of the core issues of the conflict that will enable us to avoid clashes in hard times when compromises by both sides are needed.”
Abdallah Hamarsheh, OVP’s Youth Development Program director, stated OVP’s central demands: ending the Israeli occupation, reaching a negotiated comprehensive peace with Israel based on the 1967 borders, and resolving all final status issues in accordance with the related international resolutions.
Following Abdallah’s opening remarks, Mohammad Asideh, president of the OVP Youth Council, gave a presentation on the history and complex circumstances the mire Jerusalem in conflict. He presented the OVP stance as well as the official Israeli position, then opened the floor for debate.
Initially, the majority of those in attendance voted for the division of Jerusalem with East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestine and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many were unsatisfied with that proposal and instead voiced a preference for Palestine to have sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. In the ensuing debate those in favor of division were able to convince the dissenters that in order to solve the conflict, concessions must be made. Heartening displays such as this fuel the push for consensus on the two-state solution.
“As Palestinians, we are very pragmatic about negotiations,” Mohammad explained. “We must now invest in the future by solving the conflict.”