OneVoice delegation and Jason Alexander make moves in the Mideast

OneVoice’s high profile delegation to the Middle East, led by Daniel and Jason Alexander, is off to a great start and the international media has been noticing, as you can see here, here, and here, to name a few.  (Unfortunately, the poor sound quality of this clip only  emphasizes the funny question at the end, and not the substantive conversations that took place.)

At the Knesset, Shimon Peres had deep conversations with the group as to how to achieve peace in the region (and even joked around a little).  According to a Reuters article, during the meeting Peres defended Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad- after criticism from ultranationalist  leader Avigdor Lieberman- exemplifying the open minded attitude that Israeli and Palestinian leaders should embody to reach a solution.

Aside from spending time with the top level government, the group will be meeting with OneVoice’s Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders who will be sure to offer unique perspectives of the challenges on the ground.

By Adeena Schlussel



Peres defends Abbas after Israeli foreign minister’s attack


Tue, Oct 25 2011

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli President Shimon Peres came to the defence of Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday after Israel’s far-right foreign minister called the Palestinian president an obstacle to peace.

"Abbas and (Palestinian) Prime Minister (Salam) Fayyad are serious leaders that want peace and are working to prevent violence and extremism in our region," said Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

"We must continue to negotiate peace with them in order to achieve full peace that will end this long conflict," he said in public remarks during a meeting with "Seinfeld" actor Jason Alexander, a member of "One Voice", an international movement promoting a two-state solution.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads an ultranationalist party in the governing coalition, said in a briefing to reporters on Monday that Abbas was blocking any progress towards peace.

"If there is an obstacle that could be removed it’s Abu Mazen," he said, referring to Abbas and calling on him to resign.

"He threatens he will hand back the keys," Lieberman said, referring to the Western-backed Abbas’s warnings in the past that he would quit unless a statehood deal could be achieved. "It’s not a threat, it’s a blessing."

There was no indication that Lieberman’s fiery remarks reflected any change in Israeli government policy, and they elicited no response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has called on Abbas to resume negotiations, which collapsed 13 months ago in a dispute over Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and abandon a unilateral bid for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.

Lieberman’s remarks drew Palestinian anger and condemnation by a spokesman for U.N. Middle East envoy Robert Serry, and from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, on the eve of a new push by international mediators for renewed talks.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for Ashton, said on Tuesday Lieberman’s remarks were "regrettably not helpful to create the environment of trust conducive to negotiations."

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine Radio, "we consider this tantamount to a call for the physical assassination of (Abbas)."

"This is criminal incitement. We called the American administration, we sat with our friends in the Russian Federation and the European Union," Erekat said.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were due to meet separately in Jerusalem on Wednesday with representatives of the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiatiators — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

Expectations were low in Israel and the Palestinian Territories that the indirect talks could lead to a resumption of face-to-face negotiations between the two sides.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller Additional reporting by Allyn Fisher Ilan in Jerusalem, Justyna Pawlak in Brussels and Tom Perry in Ramallah)



(AP)  JERUSALEM — Former Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander says he isn’t kidding around when it comes to promoting Mideast peace.
Alexander, who played George Costanza in the legendary sitcom for a decade, was asked by Israeli President Shimon Peres in a meeting on Tuesday for advice on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Alexander said, that through comedy and humor, he hopes to help advance the idea of two states for two people.
Peres playfully asked the actor if he could call him "George." Alexander laughed, and pointing to a crowd of reporters, said: "You can. Not them."
He met with Peres during a visit to the Holy Land with a delegation from OneVoice, an international grassroots group working with mainstream Israelis and Palestinians to encourage peace.

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