The Rt. Hon. David Miliband (center) with OneVoice Europe Executive Director John Lyndon (left) and OneVoice Palestine youth activist Rami Rabayah (right) at a pre-dinner reception with OneVoice Europe supporters.
London, March 21, 2012—Former UK Foreign Secretary, the Rt. Hon. David Miliband, told OneVoice supporters at a gala dinner in London that failing to establish an independent Palestinian state next to a secure state of Israel is the greatest diplomatic failure in 40 years.
“It’s the greatest diplomatic failure because actually it is one of those international problems to which there is a viable solution,” said Miliband.
Miliband delivered the keynote speech during OneVoice Europe’s event at St. Ermin’s Hotel in London before a captivated audience. On hand were two of the movement’s senior Israeli and Palestinian youth activists, Smadar Cohen and Rami Rabayah. Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who has championed OneVoice Europe since it was established in 2006, was also in attendance to show his support for the movement.
Miliband spoke about the importance of OneVoice’s work, including reopening the movement’s Gaza branch, blocking the recent Outpost Bill, which proposed to transform outposts that have existed for over four years into permanent settlements, and outreach efforts in the United States and Britain among vested communities and interfaith groups.
“If OneVoice is about anything, it is actually about action first with hope as its product rather than a vain call to hope that one day might produce action,” said Miliband. “Action leads to hope because it achieves successes, however small, that inspire confidence in greater successes.”
Such action, Miliband said, was particularly important given that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two-state solution have taken a backseat to Middle East revolutions and tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. He added that it was essential to widen any resolution to Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors.
“We have to regionalize the political solution,” he said. “That was, after all, the vision of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002. The 10th anniversary next month is a very significant moment of reflection.”
Addressing Rami and Smadar, along with the 4,500 youth leaders they represent, Miliband applauded their efforts to mobilize their communities behind the two-state solution and harness people power to end the conflict. He said they “defied conventional opinion” at a time when the “inevitability about a two-state solution had disappeared” and “it was no longer fashionable to be talking about a two-state solution in the Middle East.”
OneVoice Europe Executive Director John Lyndon thanked Miliband for his support, and in particular, his recognition of the situation's urgency.
“David recognizes the truth that we, at OneVoice, are working to convey in the region and internationally every day: the status quo is unsustainable," said Lyndon. "We can overturn the grim fatalism many seem to have adopted, build an independent, viable Palestine next to a secure State of Israel, and form the bedrock of a transformed Middle East.”
The event grabbed headlines in London media. Read the Jewish Chronicle's coverage here.