Unheard Voices: Civil Society Perspectives on Peace Negotiations

By Hanley, Delinda C. | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Unheard Voices: Civil Society Perspectives on Peace Negotiations


Hanley, Delinda C., Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


OneVoice Israel (OVI) executive director Tal Harris and OneVoice Palestine (OVP) executive director Samer Makhlouf participated in an Oct. 2 panel discussion hosted by the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, DC. POMED's Steve McInerney pointed out that all too often the voices of government leaders or radical elements drown out the voices and perspectives of young people and civil society. OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to try to propel their elected representatives toward the two-state solution.

Makhlouf said he works to recruit and train Palestinian youths, emphasizing nonviolent resistance, street campaigns and countering settlement building. He holds educational and political events to help train future leaders, improve public speaking and provide media training.

Asked about the Palestinian street reaction to current peace talks, Makhlouf admitted people are skeptical. "They don't oppose peace or negotiations," he said, "but they resent how Palestinians were brought to the peace table." They feel their leaders were humiliated without getting required prerequisites, especially a settlement freeze, Makhlouf explained.

"What are the alternatives to negotiations? If the discussions fail, what is our strategy? If Abbas brings an agreement to us, what is our strategy?" These are some the subjects OVP members discuss, Makhlouf said. …

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