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Palestinians and Israelis desperately need a new approach to peace

September 2011

This month has been the focus of much discussion in the Middle East and beyond. The Palestinian leadership has announced that this September it will request from the UN General Assembly full membership of the UN and recognition of a Palestinian state.

A two thirds majority will achieve that, but can it unlock the conflict and make a lasting difference to the lives of poor and marginalised people in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory?

We work with Israeli and Palestinian partners who seek justice, peace and equality in the region. Our remit is clear: to expose poverty, challenge the systems and structures that maintain it and support those whose human rights are violated. While Christian Aid does not advocate specific political strategies we do call for a viable solution based on a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict. 

Viability

Our viability analysis has examined the essential elements needed to secure peace. It goes beyond statehood to look at what social, economic, political and territorial rights and responsibilities a country needs to respect, and have respected, in order to function as an independent and prosperous entity.

Christian Aid believes that security and the right to national self-determination for both communities are essential. As are an end to occupation and a just solution for refugees. We further contend that both parties must be guided by international law and accountable to all stakeholders.

The UK and Irish governments consistently reaffirm their commitment to a two-state solution. However, it is evident that current strategies towards both parties have not been able to achieve that objective. Clearly a new political dynamic is required in order to create positive change and movement.

The Palestinian request for recognition of statehood is part of a non-violent legitimate political process. In addition, both UK and Irish governments have financially supported the development of Palestinian state institutions which the World Bank has now declared fit for purpose.

Download our report - Israel & Palestine: a question of viability (PDF)

International community

If the international community doesn’t consider the Palestinian move to be an appropriate one at this time, then it should clearly articulate a plan that would bring about a viable peace which includes delivering Palestinian self determination.

It is important to remember two things. Firstly, that Palestinians are requesting what the international community has agreed they are entitled to, but so far have been unable to deliver. Secondly, the Palestinian leadership have recognised that admission to the UN does not negate the need for negotiations.

Whatever the outcome at the UN, Palestinians and Israelis will still need to negotiate with each other and if they both agree that the answer to ending the conflict and its inherent human rights violations is an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, then that should be more actively and robustly supported than it has hitherto been.

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