The Elders warned today that the new US proposals announced by President Donald Trump cannot provide a workable solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If implemented by Israel, they would make the two-state solution impossible, entrenching deep inequality along ethnic lines and moving the decades-old conflict into a new phase.
As Israel's parliament prepares to debate immediate annexation of all settlements, the international community, including the UN and the EU, needs to emphasise — urgently — that the acquisition of territory through force is illegal, and would result in countermeasures beyond rhetorical condemnation.
Depending on the next steps by the Israeli and Palestinian parties, the Palestinian struggle for statehood may move towards a growing movement for equal rights in a single state. However, there is a risk that more extreme groups from around the world will also try to capitalise on the sense of injustice and lack of leadership.
Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has raged for almost as long as the history of the United Nations. The best, most logical and just solution is to provide two states for the two peoples, based on the internationally-recognised 1967 borders. Unilateral declarations that exclude and humiliate one party to the conflict are counter-productive."
The proposed annexation of further occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank risks imperilling the security of Israel itself. It also creates a dangerous precedent for the acquisition of territory by force, with implications well beyond the region.
The unilateral effort to redefine the status of Jerusalem in favour of one side is provocative and dangerous. Moreover, the absence of any credible plan for Gaza means a major element of the conflict is simply unaddressed.
The Elders saluted the courageous civil society organisations on both sides of the Green Line who still adhere to the principles of peace, justice and reconciliation despite the harassment and pressure they face daily.
Lakhdar Brahimi, former Algerian Foreign Minister and a veteran of his country's liberation struggle, said: "This is a conflict rooted in injustice, dispossession and disdain for rights and law. Abandoning negotiations and imposing annexation will only entrench these problems. The international community knows this is a unilateral act of folly, and Security Council members and other key actors like the European Union and the Arab world need to re-engage in the hard work for a durable and just peace."
About The Elders: The Elders are independent leaders using their collective experience and influence for peace, justice and human rights worldwide. The group was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.
The Elders are Ban Ki-moon (Deputy Chair), Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, Hina Jilani, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ricardo Lagos, Graça Machel (Deputy Chair), Juan Manuel Santos, Mary Robinson (Chair) and Ernesto Zedillo.
Kofi Annan (1938-2018) was a founding member of The Elders and served as Chair from 2013 to 2018.