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Middle East visit 2015

On 29 April two Elders left Moscow, where they and four other Elders were meeting Russian officials, to return to the Middle East: Gro Harlem Brundtland and Jimmy Carter visited Israel and the West Bank to promote peace, support the two-state solution and highlight Gaza's humanitarian crisis. Follow all the news and updates from the trip on our blog.

 

Returning a normal life to Gazans

“The people of both countries want and deserve a just peace.”

At the press conference concluding The Elders' trip to Israel and Palestine, Gro Harlem Brundtland delivers a statement urging a complete paradigm shift on Gaza and explains how the two-state solution would benefit both countries.

Read her speech

 

"We were heartened to hear ordinary Israelis telling us how much they want peace"

Gro Harlem Brundtland at the press conference on the last day of The Elders' visit said:

“We were heartened to hear ordinary Israelis telling us how much they want peace so they can live side by side with their Palestinian neighbours in a spirit of mutual respect, this gives us hope for the future. As Elders, we will continue to do all we can to work with the international community to deliver real peace and security to all people in the region.”

Read the press release

 

"The situation in Gaza is intolerable"

Jimmy Carter at the press conference on the last day of The Elders' visit, said:

“What we have seen and heard only strengthens our determination to work for peace, the situation in Gaza is intolerable. Eight months after a devastating war, not one destroyed house has been rebuilt and people cannot live with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Read the press release

 

Jimmy Carter offers to monitor Palestinian elections

A short drive away – still in Ramallah – to the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. The Elders asked the President if and how they could be of assistance with Palestinian reconciliation. Outside, the Elders made a formal statement expressing their wish that the forthcoming elections will bring peace and unity, and benefit all Palestinians

 

A talk with the PLO

"Palestinian unity is a matter of survival” – Mustafa Barghouti, veteran politician and negotiator

On their final day in the Middle East, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Jimmy Carter met key members of the Palestine Liberation Organization and other political figures to hear their perspective on the struggle to achieve Palestinian unity.

At the discussion were: Nabil Shaath, Husam Zumlot and Mohammed Shtayyeh from Fatah; Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative (Al Mubadara); Majida Al-Masri, Former Minister of Social Affairs; Basam Salhi, Palestinian People's Party; and Omar Shehada, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Chief Editor of Al-Hadaf Magazine.

 

"Eighty percent of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live below the poverty line" – Mazen Sinokrot

The Elders met with a varied group of Palestinians from human rights organisations, business and academia to hear their views on reconcilation, the crisis in Gaza and the treatment of prisoners in Israeli jails.

Businessman Mazen Sinokrot said that eighty percent of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live below the poverty line.

Invited to the discussion were: Hani Masri from the Al-Masarat Center; Shahwan Jabarin from Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organisation; Mahdi Abdel Hadi from the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs; Randa Wahbeh from Ad-Dameer, a Palestinian human rights organisation; and Mazen Sinokrot from Sinokrot Global Group.

 

Learning about the situation for Palestinian refugees

The two Elders met Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

 

Hearing from a Member of the Knesset

The Elders invited Yehiel Hilik Bar, Secretary-General of the Israeli Labor Party, to discuss the Party's view on the peace process.

Mr Bar set out Labor’s position on the peace process and made clear how it differs from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s approach.

 

The US' relationship with Israel and Palestine

President Carter meets with the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, in East Jerusalem.

The meeting focused on how, when and in which format negotiations could be resumed between Israel and Palestine.

The discussion covered the whole range of US policies, not only Israel-Palestine, but across the Middle East.

 

“If they have nothing to live for, then they will find something to die for.”

Meeting with The Society for Peace in the Western Negev, a local activist group, President Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland heard of the deep concerns for peace in the region.

The group said they wanted aid and building materials to reach their Gazan neighbours.

One member of the society said of the Palestinians in Gaza: “If they have nothing to live for, then they will find something to die for.”

 

Visiting a kibbutz near the Gaza border

From the south-west perimeter of the kibbutz, Alon Shuster, Head of Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, shows President Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland the view from the kibbutz to the walls of Gaza, a little over a kilometre away.

During the war of the summer of 2014, rockets from Gaza exploded very nearby. On the left of the photo is Ofer Liberman, President of Kibbutz Nir-Am.

 

Woman on Israeli border: "We want peace"

 

The path to Palestinian unity

The meeting with Dr Abu Amr and the two Elders was focused primarily on how to make real progress on Palestinian reconcilation.

The exchange of views was lively and imaginative, with the Elders feeling encouraged by the talks while recognising that many obstacles still lie on the path to genuine unity.

 

Meeting the Palestinian Authority

Gro Harlem Brundtland and Jimmy Carter are greeted by Deputy Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Dr Ziad Abu Amr at the Council of Ministers in Ramallah.

During the meeting, Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland discussed with Dr Ziad Abu Amr matters concerning Palestinian reconciliation.

 

Roundtable on Gaza

A day after concluding their Russian visit with a 2 hour meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Elders Gro Harlem Brundtland and President Carter hosted a roundtable discussion in Jerusalem.

They met with Katleen Maes from UN OCHA, who gave a humanitarian overview; Nathan Thrall from ICG, who discussed Fatah-Hamas and GNC political dynamics; Tania Hari from Gisha on Israeli policy towards Gaza; and Lani Frerichs who talked about policy tools for greater accountability.

The participants discussed approaches to solving a broad range of issues facing the region.

 

Why The Elders are returning to Israel and Palestine

Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland will revisit the Middle East in a renewed push to promote the two-state solution and to address the root causes of the conflict.

Read more

The Elders are independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

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