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:
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.