OneVoice Palestine youth leader Ahmad Omeir speaks with an Italian tourist in Manger Square on why her country should support the Palestinian bid in the UN and what it means for the two-state solution.
New York, September 21, 2011—United behind the mantra ‘independent state,' OneVoice Palestine (OVP) youth leaders stood on the forefront of change in this week’s OVP campaign to spread support on the upcoming Palestinian bid for statehood.
Much like their Arab Spring predecessors, Palestinian youth, both men and women, assembled as activists collecting on college campuses and bustling Palestinian holy sites to renew anticipation for a brighter Palestinian future embodied by a sovereign state within the United Nations. Their support for the Palestinian bid comes with the primary intent to mobilize thousands of Palestinians behind the two-state solution. Their activities will lay the basis for nonviolent and constructive responses in the aftermath of the vote.
“The youth are the future for Tunisia, Egypt, and Palestine. They negotiate the future by deciding what Palestinians want,” said Mohammad Asideh, OVP youth council delegate.
Negotiating this future for Palestinians, OVP youth leaders took to the streets in an OVP weekend outreach to Bethlehem’s Manger Square distributing flyers with the logo 193 plus one – the number of UN member nations with the addition of a Palestinian state. International tourists joined this conversation as OVP youth leaders urged visitors to push their government in support of UN recognition.
“We came to Bethlehem today to send a message of regards to the countries who decided to support Palestine as well as to encourage those who have not yet decided,” said OVP participant Mohammed Zaid.
In tandem with the Bethlehem outreach that affected an estimated 1,000 individuals, OVP also launched a signature drive at Al Quds University in Jenin appealing to the distinctive climate of the university on Saturday.
“The majority of the university is women, so it is important for them to have a role in the discussion,” Asideh said.
Desiring to engage the female demographic, OVP youth leaders collected hundreds of signatures from students waiting up to ten minutes in line to show support of a future Palestinian state. Partaking in heated discussions with peers, OVP youth leaders also elaborated on the necessity for peaceful approaches to achieving statehood.
“Palestinians want to see progress. They want to see change. We are at a juncture, it can get worse or it can get better,” Samer Makhlouf, OVP’s executive director, said on the need for Palestinians to continue nonviolence regardless of the UN’s decision.
Makhlouf spoke at a women’s empowerment event in Salfeet on Sunday where guest speakers Fadwa Barghouti, wife of political prisoner Marwan Barghouti, and Najat Abu Baker, Palestinian Legislative Council member, were in attendance. Allowing women a place in the deliberation within the West Bank, this event encouraged the estimated 250 women present to have a voice in their community for promoting a Palestinian state.
“The role of women must be greater and broader,” said Abu Baker. “The voice and the role of women is important to carry the message, and I urge that their role not be artificial. I appeal to Palestinian women to engage in political action and empower themselves.”
As the world watches the Palestinian bid unfold, OVP has continued to rally support empowering the diverse demographics of Palestinians to hope for change.
“There is big hope and expectations are increasing,” said Makhlouf. “Even in the best case scenario, it doesn’t mean that there will be no more war, settlers, or occupation, but this UN bid represents a big step.”