Quaker Peace & Social Witness have joined American Friends Service Committee in making an open statement to the international community from Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.
As Nobel Peace Laureates, we join others worldwide who are calling on the international community to secure an immediate ceasefire to prevent any further deaths among Israelis and Palestinians. As the situation continues to deteriorate and the disproportionate number of deaths in Gaza mounts, we are called by conscience to speak out in every way possible not only to end the current violence, but to address the roots of violence.
There have been attacks on Gaza before. There have been cease-fires declared before. And yet the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory grinds on. One million and seven hundred thousand Palestinians continue to live under Israeli siege in Gaza. Immediately after the last cease-?fire in 2012, calm did return to Israel, but Israeli attacks did not stop in Gaza.
Peace is more than the absence of outright war. Peace requires the presence of justice, of equality, of recognising our common humanity. Those who would be brokers for peace must first acknowledge and address the coercive and corrosive power that Israel wields over Palestinians. As Nelson Mandela said in 1985, “Only free men can negotiate: a prisoner cannot enter into contracts."
The conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis will only be resolved when Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory is ended and the inherent equality, worth, and dignity of all is realised. And that requires dismantling the existing systems that discriminate against Palestinians. Currently, Palestinians are restricted in moving from one place to another, are arbitrarily denied access to water and electricity, and have few prospects for economic development. Their homes are demolished and their land is confiscated to make way for illegal settlements and the Separation Wall.
The international community must create the context in which real peace is possible, by condemning violations of basic human rights, holding accountable those who are responsible for breaches of international law, and by refusing military and economic aid that supports Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Only then will Palestinians and Israelis be able to live in peace and freedom.
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