Biden Responds to OneVoice Israel

This is a press release from One Voice Israel

Tel Aviv, March 11, 2010—OneVoice Israel staff and youth leaders urged hundreds of people attending United States Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at Tel Aviv University on Thursday not to let the extremists on either side seize the peace process.

Eight youth leaders joined OneVoice Israel Interim Director Tal Harris and Coordinator Guy Lupo in distributing nearly 1,000 flyers to attendees in support of the renewal of talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

“The agenda in Israel is being hijacked by extremists who work to undermine our government’s strategy for peace,” said Harris. “Today, we witnessed 700 students at Tel Aviv University eager for change, who disagree with the appeasement of extreme settlers.”

OneVoice Israel’s staff and youth leaders wearing the movement’s t-shirts stood out from the audience during Biden’s talk. Noticing their presence, the vice president gave the first question to our youth leader Danny Shaket.

Shaket asked Biden for his opinion on what the U.S. administration, the Israeli government, and the Palestinian Authority would need from the moderate majority in order to reach an agreement.

“The United States cannot want peace more than the Palestinians want it or more than the Israelis want it,” Biden said. “You have got to get to the point where the leaders are actually able to sit and hopefully what we can do in these proximity talks, being available to both parties, we can be a bridging mechanism.”

Throughout his speech, Biden voiced his commitment to end the conflict through a two-state solution.

“For Israel, then, this is about both preserving your identity and achieving the security you deserve, lasting security,” Biden said. “For Palestinians, statehood will not just fulfill a legitimate and long-sought aspiration common to all peoples; it will restore the fundamental dignity and self-respect that their current predicament denies them.”

Israel’s announcement of plans to build 1,600 Jewish homes in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in Arab East Jerusalem marred Biden’s visit and was condemned by the United States.

“[T]hat decision, in my view, undermined the trust required for productive negotiations,” Biden said on Thursday. “I — and at the request of President Obama condemned it immediately and unequivocally.”

The vice president’s comments were met with applause from the mainly Israeli audience, many of whom were students at Tel Aviv University.

“It’s unfortunate and dangerous that the Israeli government’s actions are not in sync with their two-state strategy,” said Tal Harris of OneVoice Israel.

Click here to listen to Danny Shaket’s question and U.S. Vice President’s Joe Biden’s response, starting at 37 minutes and 35 seconds.

Click here to listen to BBC World Service interview with OneVoice Israel’s Interim Director Tal Harris and youth leader Daniella Shlomo.

Click here to view pictures from the event.

The OneVoice is an international grassroots movement amplifying the voice of Israeli and Palestinian moderates. OneVoice works with Israelis and Palestinians in parallel, empowering them to seize back the agenda for conflict resolution and demand that their leaders achieve a two-state solution, guaranteeing the end of occupation and the establishment of Palestinian state, while ensuring the safety and security of the State of Israel.