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Elders urge Biden to craft viable Mideast peace plan

Former President Mary Robinson of Ireland was among the signatories of the letter to President Joe Biden
Former President Mary Robinson of Ireland was among the signatories of the letter to President Joe Biden - Copyright AFP Oli SCARFF
Former President Mary Robinson of Ireland was among the signatories of the letter to President Joe Biden - Copyright AFP Oli SCARFF

US President Joe Biden should embrace a “historic opportunity” and deliver a peace plan between warring Israelis and Palestinians, but it must be a lasting political solution that “undermines extremists” on both sides, a group of independent global leaders said Thursday.

The leaders, known as The Elders, called on Biden in an open letter to offer “a vision for peace.”

In an open letter, Elders chair and former Irish president Mary Robinson, onetime United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and others said history “will never forget your leadership” if Biden is able to build a coalition of partners who seek a just settlement and who can deliver a viable plan.

In calling for the plan to be based on a two-state solution, they stressed that “it must recognise the equal rights of Palestinians and Israelis.”

They also said any Biden-led plan should be rooted in international law, determine who next runs Gaza, address Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and must “end Israel’s accelerating annexation of Palestinian land.”

“As polarisation increases, the world needs you to set out a vision for peace,” wrote The Elders, an international organization of senior statesmen, peace activists and human rights advocates founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

“That vision must give hope to those who reject extremism and want the violence to end.”

With the conflict in Gaza raging and thousands of innocent civilians killed, the Elders acknowledged a peace plan could not emerge overnight. 

“A comprehensive agreement will take years. It will demand enormous political courage from all leaders, in the face of significant domestic opposition,” they wrote.

Those in power will require legitimacy and credibility among their people, and a commitment to two states living in peace. “Those leaders are not currently in power in Palestine or Israel,” they said.

The Elders also warned that the current violence is feeding anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and undermining American objectives in the Middle East and Ukraine.

While condemning the “horrific Hamas attacks of 7 October” in which Palestinian militants slaughtered some 1,200 Israelis, according to authorities, “destroying Gaza and killing civilians are not making Israelis safe.

“These actions will breed more terrorism, across the region and beyond. There is no military solution to this conflict.”

The world has spoken for years of a two-state solution, with no significant progress, and The Elders warned that has only suited extremists on both sides.

“It is time to end the empty rhetoric, and implement a serious peace plan that undermines extremists,” they told Biden.

The Elders, including two Nobel peace laureates, said Mandela showed them how “the road from hatred to forgiveness can be long and difficult.”

“Some will never walk it,” they added. “But the majority of Palestinians and Israelis want to live in peace, not endure yet more violence. Please help them find the path to peace.”

Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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