The Palestinian News Agency WAFA reports on the current visit of three of ‘The Elders’ to Gaza.
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace-building and help address major causes of human suffering.
The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu (Chair). Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are honorary Elders.
Mary Robinson: a young elder from Ireland
Delegation leader, former Irish President, Mary Robinson, said:
“I was last here in 2008, just before the Gaza war. The situation has deteriorated to a shocking extent since then. This is not a humanitarian crisis – it is a political crisis and it can be solved politically. It is unconscionable and unacceptable that Israel and the international community have not lifted the blockade fully to allow Gazans to rebuild their lives and be part of the interconnected world that we take for granted. The easing of the blockade may mean more goods can be imported, but people are not free to come and go, reconstruction materials are still highly restricted, there is no real economy to speak of, and I have no doubt that things are not just stagnant – they are going backwards.”
India’s Ela Bhatt, a Gandhian pioneer in the field of non-violent resistance and women’s economic empowerment, who visited Gaza as a student in 1968, said:
“People cannot continue to live in an atmosphere of fear – no good can come of it. The people have the right to develop their economy – every other place in the world is being supported to meet the Millennium Development Goals. In Gaza, education, health, sanitation and socio-economic indicators are getting worse. I am especially concerned about the situation for women in Gaza – they have much to contribute to a peaceful future and I urged leaders here to enable them to play a much greater role in the peace process.”
Former Algerian Foreign Minister and former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said:
“Holding 1.5 million people in what is effectively an open prison is deepening the sense of anger and injustice of the Palestinians. We are here to show solidarity with them. This situation is a disaster. It is creating a generation of young people who have little to lose. This is not in anyone’s interest.”
After their Gaza visit, the three leaders will join ex-US President Jimmy Carter in Cairo.
Earth Elders Round Table
How long will it take before the current crop of world leaders put real pressure on Israel to end this cruel and utterly illegal blockade of the tiny Gaza strip?
During Israel’s blockade, Israel has actually been admitted to the OECD, making a travesty of the self-imposed rules for the rich countries club.
The absolute opposite sould have happened: after Israel began its illegal blockade, civilized countries should have suspended diplomatic relations pending the blockade’s lifting.
Nations acquiescing in the brutal injustice of Israel’s strangulation of Gaza accept a world where peace is impossible. The blockade simply MUST end. It was outrageous from the outset. It has become evil beyond words.
The Elders see that clearly. What’s wrong with their juniors? Why are the self-styled leaders of the ‘Free World’ so out of step with these loved and respected elder statesmen?
Until Gaza is free, the focus of the world will remain on “the world’s largest prison camp“. That will happen whether Rupert Murdoch and other obnoxious Zionist plutocrats like it or not.
Keeping the Gaza blockade in force will continue the torture of one and a half million people. But from a broader geopolitical perspective, it will only accelerate global boycott – led by civic society – of the worse-than-apartheid Israeli rogue state.