Late South Africa president Nelson Mandela is reunited with The Elders, three years after he launched the group, in Johannesburg, May 2010, (Photo: AP).
The Elders warned on Sunday that Israel’s plans to annex the whole West Bank “represent a unilateral repudiation of the two-state solution.”
The group of independent leaders, including former heads of states, diplomats and chiefs of international organisations and prominent human rights activists, said those plans are “opposed by most countries in the region and internationally.”
“Annexation risks plunging the region into deeper turmoil, further fomenting bitterness and alienation among Palestinians, antagonising Israel’s neighbours and eroding the democratic and constitutional framework of the Jewish state,” The Elders said in a statement.
“A new initiative in the spirit of the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991 is needed to bring both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as regional and international powers, into meaningful dialogue on the way forward. Existing multilateral mechanisms like the Quartet should be revitalised and potentially expanded to give a greater role to other powers in the region.”
The recent agreement on the formation of a new coalition government in Israel — jointly created by Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White Party — stipulates that Israel will claim sovereignty over the whole West Bank by 1 July and implement the controversial peace plan that was developed by US President Donald Trump’s administration.
“A couple of months from now, I’m confident that that pledge will be honoured, that we will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism,” Netanyahu said on 27 April.
Despite US backing, such plans have been criticised by both the Arab League and the European Union, as well as the Arab parties in the Israeli Knesset.