New York, June 20, 2011—OneVoice Israel (OVI) announced on Tuesday a new Facebook application, following a debate with MK Yoel Hasson and PA official Ashraf al-Ajrami in Beersheba on international recognition of a Palestinian state come September.
The debate at Ben Gurion University is part of OVI’s conference series entitled, “2011: Toward a Black September?”, which has engaged hundreds of people across Israel. The Facebook application will build on this impact, reaching thousands of Israelis from now until September. It comes as a response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to offer a peace initiative and will serve as a platform for the Israeli public to express creative ideas of how to resolve the conflict.
“Israel needs new ideas and bold leaders to dismantle the bomb that could come in September,” said Danny Shaket, OVI youth leadership program coordinator, who moderated the debate. “There is a lack of understanding in Israeli society when it comes to September; no one really understands what it will mean and what the Israeli response should be.”
Hasson, who also serves as chairman of the Two-State Solution Caucus, noted that Netanyahu’s precondition of recognition, which proves his unwillingness to restart negotiations, is among the biggest obstacles to negotiations. If Israel takes an assertive role in restarting negotiations, the September UN vote for Palestinian statehood will become unnecessary.
“We must understand that we are in political chaos,” said Hasson. "On the other hand, maybe September is not bad because it will be international recognition that the solution to the conflict is two states.”
Al-Ajrami gave a view from the Palestinian perspective and fielded tough questions from the audience.
"We prefer to negotiate directly with Israel than to receive the consent of the United Nations in September, but we have no choice,” said Ajrami, former minister of prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority. “[Netanyahu] did not adopt the principle of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with agreed upon land exchanges. This is the biggest problem of the Palestinian people even more than the refugee problem."
The audience disagreed on multiple occasions with al-Ajrami. Three comments from the audience identified the refugee issue as the biggest obstacle to an agreement, noting that any agreement would be invalid if all Palestinian refugees return to Israel.
To solve all final status issues, including refugees, Israeli and Palestinian leaders will need compromise and creativity.
“[Netanyahu is] confused and stuck,” said Tal Harris, executive director of OVI. “We invite everyone who wants to help him to complete the missing articles of a peace initiative by using our new Facebook application and give Netanyahu creative ideas.”
Read Palestine New Network's article about the event.