Alison Williams of UNGA-LINK – having read a previous post – referred the writer to the work of the Elders and added a link.The Elders (above) is an independent group of global leaders, chaired by Kofi Annan. They were brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela to work together for peace and human rights. Archbishop Desmond Tutu served for six years as Chair before stepping down in May 2013, and remains an Honorary Elder. The Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was also an Honorary Elder, until her election to the Burmese parliament in April 2012.
John Reed recently reported for the Financial Times that former US president Jimmy Carter has been visiting Jerusalem. He was in the region on a three-day mission sponsored by The Elders and was joined by Norway’s former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
Mr Carter presided over the Camp David Accords in 1978, when Egypt and Israel concluded a peace treaty, the first between an Arab country and the Jewish state. He has since angered many Israelis with sharp criticism of Israel, including in his 2006 book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”. Last year, during Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip, Mr Carter said there was no justification in the world for what Israel is doing.
Mr Carter and Ms Brundtland said they were not able to visit Gaza because of security concerns but met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The Elders are trying to break a political deadlock between Hamas and Fatah, which — despite a reconciliation agreement last year — is still not working as a joint government to rebuild Gaza after last summer’s war.
Public officials in Gaza, who have not been paid since the spring, insisted that their salaries be paid before they would authorise the release of building materials. Ban ki Moon’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. had assisted in the delivery of a humanitarian assistance payment to civil servants in Gaza and thanked Qatar for providing the funds.
The Elders secured an agreement from President Abbas to convene the Interim Leadership Framework, which would include both the Palestine Liberation Organisation and representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s two main militant factions.
When asked whether Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which collapsed a year ago, might be revived, Mr Carter said that Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations are a “dead issue” because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unwilling to accept a Palestinian state: “This is the end of it during the Netanyahu regime in my opinion”.
“I think the United States’ influence now in Jerusalem and Ramallah is at a very low ebb,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times and Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Some European Union members promoting Palestinian rights and peace
Mr Carter’s belief and hope is that the European Union members will play a strong and active role in promoting Palestinian rights. Several European parliaments have held symbolic votes calling for the recognition of Palestine in recent months, in April, the Government of Italy announced a €1.0 million contribution to support East Jerusalem, the EU-Palestinian Joint Committee met in Ramallah and France is leading efforts to draft a UN Security Council resolution that would set parameters for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.