Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Elders: For the recognition of a Palestinian state... Peace negotiations must be "based firmly on international law and universal human rights"

from the Elders

... Any future peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be a return to business as usual. If they are, they will be doomed to failure. Instead they must start on a fresh basis, one based firmly on international law and universal human rights with clear parameters and an agreed deadline for their conclusion.

Twelve months ago US President Barack Obama used his annual address to the UN to declare that he looked forward to welcoming Palestine to the ranks of the UN’s members by the start of its next session. Unfortunately, the bilateral negotiations that might have produced this desired result have not been possible, due in large part to the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

These settlements have repeatedly been declared by the international community to be illegal under international law. To salvage the remaining opportunity to create a “contiguous and viable” Palestinian state, all construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem intended solely for Jewish occupants must halt immediately.

Any negotiations that resume following action at the UN should aim to define the boundaries of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Such an accord could entail equal land swaps to allow for minor adjustments.

Fair and robust external mediation will be another essential ingredient as, under present circumstances, the parties are unlikely to be able to reach an agreement on their own. In this regard, a positive and united stand over the anticipated UN resolution by the European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner and, at a billion Euros per year, by far the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority, would give it leverage to play a bigger political role to help resolve the conflict.

For over two decades, negotiations have been more about process than real substance, leading to understandable disillusionment and frustration among Palestinians and all those who seek a just and lasting peace agreement. It has been almost 65 years since the UN agreed to the creation of two states – this solution has been delayed for far too long

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