A just resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is critical for peace in our world today. Despite the difficulties inherent in ending this conflict, it is urgent that it is resolved. 2017 marks 100 years since the Balfour declaration[1], 70 years since UN resolution 181[2], and 50 years since Israel began its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the annexation of East Jerusalem. Pax Christi International believes that this is the moment for a renewed commitment to end the violence and to reach a just and sustainable solution guaranteeing the fundamental rights of both Israelis and Palestinians in accordance with international law.

Stop all violations of international law

Pax Christi International is committed to an approach which protects human rights, promotes peace and respects international law. We call on both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to adhere to international humanitarian and human rights laws.  We believe that the global justice system can play an important role in stopping violations of international law. We welcome the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to carry out a preliminary examination that, if warranted, would lead to a criminal investigation to determine if war crimes were committed by either party during the 51-day war in 2014 between Hamas militants in Gaza and the state of Israel.[3] We deeply mourn the deaths and injuries incurred during this conflict and recognise the right of both sides to safety and security. At the same time, it is important to emphasise that this is a fundamentally unequal conflict in which the rights of Palestinians have been more grossly violated.

Focus on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT)

The situation in the OPT is cause for alarm. Breaches of international law related to the Israeli military occupation take place on a regular basis and in a variety of ways, including frequent collective punishment, confiscation of land, exploitation of water resources, home demolitions, restrictions on the freedom of movement and goods, administrative detentions, and the harassment, psychological trauma and torture of Palestinian detainees and prisoners.[4] The presence of Israel’s military, the establishment of illegal Israeli settlements, and the separation barriers have created a dangerous and inhumane environment for Palestinians in which children[5]and women[6] are particularly vulnerable. The significant increase in the detention of children and the recent law by the Israeli Parliament to lower the age of detainees is especially troubling.[7] Pax Christi International urges the international community to pay more attention to this situation and to compel Israel to end these violations of international law.

Work towards solutions based on peaceful co-existence

Our movement strongly urges both Israel and Palestine to return to the negotiating table and begin a dialogue rooted in mutual respect for human rights and the dignity of the other, as well as a commitment to abide by international law. We believe a path to peaceful co-existence is not only possible but essential. Moreover the international community, through efforts of the Quartet (UN, EU, Russian Federation and the USA) and the Arab and French Peace Initiative, should renew their commitment to diplomacy. The solution to this struggle is political—not military. As the 1993 Oslo Peace Process has failed and negotiations are at a standstill, a new political strategy is needed. The international community has taken positive steps in calling on Israeli and Palestinian authorities to start a new peace process.[8] Most importantly, the peace process should incorporate an approach which respects human rights and promotes justice and is constructed on the relevant UN resolutions. In support of this process, we call for a ban on arms sales and deliveries to Israel and Palestine and a cessation of any military cooperation which contributes to violent conflict.[9]

See the entire article at Pax Christi International

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