“Doing a short-term deal on settlements to restart direct talks is desperate and wrong” – Mary RobinsonThe Elders remind Israel, the United States and the international community that settlement expansion is illegal under international law – any short-term moratorium on Israeli settlement activity is a step backwards for the peace process.
Members of the eminent global group, The Elders, have today called on the United States and the rest of the international community to insist on an end to all Israeli settlement activity.
They have issued their call in response to reports that the United States’ Administration has asked Israel to extend a 90-day partial moratorium on settlement activity in return for a package of diplomatic and security incentives.
Elders’ chair Desmond Tutu said:
“This news breaks my heart. What is Washington thinking? Settlements are illegal; they contravene UN Resolution 242 and violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. The resumption of direct talks cannot be based on one side negotiating its way out of an important question of international law.“
Former Irish President Mary Robinson, who led a delegation of four Elders on a trip to the Middle East last month said:
“We heard repeatedly across the Arab world that the United States is no longer seen as an honest broker: Washington is perceived to be too close to Israel. This effort to do a short-term deal on settlements to restart direct talks is desperate and wrong. It betrays international law and the entire family of nations – not to mention the Palestinians.”
Dr Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, joined her fellow Elders in appealing for an end to all settlement activity.
“During the Oslo process in 1993 Israel promised to stop settlement expansion pending the outcome of final status negotiations. This deal sends us backwards instead of towards a sustainable long-term solution.”
In addition to concern about negotiations on settlements, the Elders called for the human rights of Palestinians living under occupation to be protected and that property confiscations, evictions and deportations stopped.
Former United States President Jimmy Carter said:
“The mistreatment of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem is a gross violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This abuse cannot be condoned by the international community.“
They also sought to draw attention to thousands of Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli prisons in breach of the Geneva Conventions, including hundreds of children under 18.
The lasting security of the state of Israel and its people can only be achieved through compliance with international law, allowing them to live in peace and security alongside Palestinians who enjoy the same benefits in a state that is viable and contiguous.