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Sunday, 23 August 2009

Elders of peace come to Israel for dialogue

The one thing common to members of the Global Elders, a forum of elder statesman, businessmen and peace activists, is that their future is behind them. Three of them have Nobel peace prizes in their cupboards. They are coming here, today, in the height of the summer heat, to listen to what plagues Israelis and Palestinians, and to try to convince them that there is another way.

Former US president Jimmy Carter has become of late a regular visitor to Jerusalem and Ramallah. The last time Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa came to the region, he protested from Gaza Strip that he was not allowed to break the siege and pass from there into Israel. Their colleagues in the delegation include former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Brundtland, former Irish president and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian human rights activist Ela Bhatt, and renowned businessmen Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll who co-founded the organization in 2007 and have supported it ever since.

The forum was established by former South African president Nelson Mandela, ahead of his 89th birthday. It aims to engage the experience and prestige of celebrated global leaders to recruit popular support for peace building, and for dealing with humanitarian problems in crisis areas. The delegation will meet with President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, peace activists and public figures. More