The barrier disconnects more than a quarter of the 300,200 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from the rest of the city. These residents suffer from a severe lack of basic services and infrastructure.
The same day, the Elders received a separate briefing on Gaza from the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) Commissioner General, Pierre Krähenbühl.
The discussion focused on ways to achieve reconciliation between the two principal Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, including confidence-building measures, and the possible role that The Elders could play in encouraging national unity.
Ofer Liberman (left), a resident of the kibbutz, met the Elders and took them on a tour of his community, which was founded in 1943, before the creation of Israel. Up until the past few years, the kibbutz residents and their Palestinian neighbours had good relations with one another.
As one of them said of the Palestinians nearby, “If people have nothing to live for, they will find something to die for.”
That day the Elders also met Hilik Bar, Secretary-General of the Israeli Labor Party, and head of the Knesset all-party group in favour of a two-state solution.
Earlier that day, the Elders also met US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who travelled to meet them in Jerusalem and spoke about US policy in the region.
Here, Shahwan Jabarin (far right), Director of the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, expresses his deep concern about potential radicalisation of the people in Gaza if the blockade continues. Left of him are Nathan Stock of The Carter Center, and Khalil Shaheen and Dr Mahdi Abdel Hadi, representing leading Palestinian think tanks.
The Elders met seven senior members of the PLO, from Fatah and other political parties, for a roundtable discussion that focused largely on Palestinian reconciliation and broader political representation.
They had an hour-long meeting with the President, in which he expressed his readiness to move to new elections, and to convene the ‘Interim Leadership Framework’, which will include representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as the PLO.
Jimmy Carter said that visit had strengthened their determination to work for peace, adding “the situation in Gaza is intolerable.” While Gro Harlem Brundtland restated The Elders’ commitment “to deliver real peace and security to all people in the region.”
Read the press release
Above: Kalandia checkpoint with Ramallah in background.
Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland spent three days discussing the post-war political landscape with a host of experts, politicians and NGOs.
Gro Harlem Brundtland and Jimmy Carter visited Israel and Palestine from 30 April to 2 May 2015, the fourth Elders' trip to the region.
The goal of the visit was to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and support the two-state solution.
What the two Elders saw and heard from both Palestinians and Israelis made them even more committed to finding a long-lasting solution for peace.
Photos: Muath Khatib | The Elders