New York, August 26, 2011—OneVoice Palestine (OVP) held the first part of a new public engagement series called the “Dialogue Café” on August 21 and 22, with its youth leaders, political science students from An-Najah National University, and citizens from Nablus and Ramallah.
The post-iftar meetings, located in the Hayat Nablus and Alhambra Palace Hotel in Ramallah, sought to explore the youth leaders’ opinions in respect to the United Nations bid on Palestinian statehood and OVP’s September campaign supporting an independent Palestinian state. In the coming weeks, a committee of OVP youth leaders will coordinate within all Palestinian cities in the West Bank in order to maximize the impact of the upcoming campaign.
Abdullah Hamarsheh, director of Youth Leadership Program, opened the discussion with quick introduction about September bid and OVP’s support for it.
“Without a doubt, the bid is not the end but the start to call for more support for the Palestinian rights,” Hamarsheh said. “The UN bid will reformulate the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on the basis of 1967 borders, Palestinian rights and international law, and not the illegal facts on the ground [such as settlement activities].”
Among OVP youth leaders, this engaging discussion revealed much support for the UN bid, including from Ala Salous of Nablus.
“We have been seeking this dream of an ‘independent state’ for decades and for the first time it’s very close to reality,” Salous said. “Our role as OVP youth leaders is to support our community, spread awareness, and advocate to others until we see this dream come true.”
John Lyndon, executive director of OneVoice Europe, and Samer Makhlouf, executive director of OVP, impressed upon the youth leaders the importance of crafting an effective campaign surrounding the UN bid. Lyndon and Makhlouf encouraged an open and continuous dialogue between youth leaders and OneVoice staff in the coming weeks.
The bid’s uncertainties were also discussed, and the youth leaders raised concerns such as the number of states supporting the bid and what will happen after the vote, both on the ground in Palestine and in the international arena.
Mohammad Kilany, a youth leader from Ramallah, has put so much effort into the future of his people, he neglected one important person.
“We worked very hard to reach this stage, more than anything else in our lives,” Kilany said. “I worked for the state more than preparing to build better future for myself.”