New York, August 28, 2012—The #J14 movement joined OneVoice Israel on Tuesday in Tel Aviv to draw for the first time the inextricable link between calls for social justice and demands for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hundreds congregated in Rothschild Boulevard around a massive ice wall, symbolizing the "freeze" in peace talks and containing posters with information on dozens of under-funded social programs in Israel, while the government bleeds money toward conflict management over resolution. The Knesset's Two-State Solution Caucus, led by MK Yoel Hasson and MK Amir Peretz, backed the event and spoke critically about the Netanyahu government's growth of investments east of the Green Line over good faith negotiations with the Palestinians.
“Our social needs are being frozen along with the peace process,” said Tal Harris, OneVoice Israel executive director. “People forgot over the last 20 years that the peace process impacts their day-to-day life. We want to remind them of the need to freeze settlements and end the conflict once and for all by committing to serious negotiations.”
The #J14 protest movement originally wished to avoid politicizing their social justice drive, but could no longer ignore the hard facts. The government’s defense budget ballooned to $14.5 billion in 2012, much of it to maintain the occupation, while education and health suffer serious deficits. Israeli taxpayers have so far bankrolled the occupation and settlement of Palestinian land to the tune of $50 billion while struggling to make ends meet.
“The State of Israel cannot continue its economic prosperity while also maintaining the freeze in the peace process,” said Yossi Yona, a leading member of the #J14 movement. “We must present an integrated approach that includes the just and moral solution of two states, which ultimately translates to social justice for all.”
Singers Noa (Achinoam Nini) and Mira Awad, MKs Avishay Braverman, Nitzan Horowitz, Akram Hasoon, Dov Khenin and Raleb Majadele, and Ambassadors Ilan Baruch, Alon Liel and Daniel Shek, among others, participated in the headline-grabbing event.
"In life there is no status quo, if you don't move forward you go backwards," said MK Dov Khenin. "The government of Netanyahu speaks of two states, but acts on a daily basis to make this solution harder. The price? It’s not only for the Palestinians, we too are paying greatly."
OneVoice's activists in Israel are demanding halting settlement construction to restore confidence in the peace process and restart negotiations. In parallel, OneVoice Palestine is leading community initiatives to transform the frustration and hopelessness on the street into a mass unified call for a peace agreement that ends the occupation, establishes an independent Palestinian state and ends all claims.