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Monday, 13 December, 2010

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be grounded in international law and human rights – define borders and address security issues first.

The Elders

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be grounded in international law
and human rights – define borders and address security issues first.

For nearly two decades, there have been peace processes in the Middle East but no peace. In our recent visits to four countries across the region and the occupied Palestinian territory, we heard a consistent message: people want peace, but are sceptical about the process and have little faith in the international community to deliver.

There is now an opportunity to reassess the entire approach to the negotiations. The flawed U.S. effort to secure from Israel another partial freeze on settlement-building, in exchange for generous inducements, as a way of resuming direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders has failed.

We now urge a renewed effort, firmly based in international law and respect for human rights, aimed at defining boundaries between Israel and a new Palestinian state and addressing security issues, without neglecting the other issues at the core of the conflict. Without such focus, we may see the possibility of a two-state solution slipping even further away.

Our primary purpose is to help bring peace and security to Israel and its neighbours.

We therefore call on governments and citizens around the world to insist that future negotiations are based on the following:

  1. Universal human rights and respect for international humanitarian law must apply equally to all.

  2. The occupation must end, and the aim of negotiations should be to define the boundaries of a future Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, including its capital in East Jerusalem. Such an accord could entail, if agreed, a one-to-one land swap to allow for minor adjustments. Initial negotiations should also aim at security arrangements in which both Israelis and Palestinians have confidence.

  3. The remaining final status issues can be addressed more effectively once there is an agreement on borders and security.

  4. Israeli settlements are illegal and all settlement activity must halt throughout the occupied Palestinian territory including in East Jerusalem.

  5. Israel must lift its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza and stop the demolition and seizure of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

  6. Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza must end all human rights violations against political critics and rivals.

  7. Israel's right to exist must not be denied. Incitement and calls for the destruction of Israel must not be tolerated.

  8. The Arab Peace Initiative must serve as the basis for normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world.

Towards a two-state solution and regional peace

Israelis and Palestinians must ultimately agree to a solution, but they cannot do it alone.

The international community must help them reach that agreement through fair and robust mediation and by reconfirming prior agreements, UN Security Council resolutions, international law and human rights principles.

Citizens must step up pressure on their leaders.

As Elders, we will do all we can to persuade governments around the world to apply a rights-based approach to this terrible conflict and to turn the focus of initial negotiations to border and security issues.

We have already given our support to non-violent protest and creative civil action for peace. We will continue to do so – in person when we can and in spirit when we cannot.

Without a strategy that can deliver a peace agreement based on a two-state solution, Palestinians will continue to live under Israeli occupation, millions of Palestinian refugees will continue to live without hope and Israel’s survival and security remain under threat. If there is no real progress, more violence is the likely outcome.

Our greatest wish is that the Middle East will achieve lasting peace, stability and prosperity for all its people.

The Elders

FEATURED ELDERS

Graça Machel

International advocate for women’s and children's rights; former freedom fighter and first Education Minister of Mozambique.

Mary Robinson

First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Chair of The Elders; a passionate, forceful advocate for gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building and human dignity.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Former President of Brazil; implemented major land reform programme, reduced poverty and significantly improved health and education; an acclaimed sociologist and global advocate for drug policy reform.

Jimmy Carter

Former President of the United States, Nobel Peace Laureate and veteran peace negotiator; dedicated to advancing peace, democracy and health worldwide.

Martti Ahtisaari

Former President of Finland; Nobel Peace Laureate and expert in international peace mediation, diplomacy and post-conflict state building.

Lakhdar Brahimi

Former Algerian freedom fighter, Foreign Minister, conflict mediator and UN diplomat; an expert in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Laureate; a veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner widely regarded as ‘South Africa’s moral conscience’.

Kofi Annan

Former UN Secretary-General, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair of The Elders (2013-2018); put development, human rights, the rule of law, good governance and peace at the top of the United Nations agenda.

Ela Bhatt

The ‘gentle revolutionary’; a pioneer in women’s empowerment and grassroots development, founder of the more than 1 million-strong Self-Employed Women’s Association in India.

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