Gaza Crisis “Unsustainable and Intolerable”

by James M. WallCarter-Brundtland

Former President of the United States Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, concluded their trip to Israel and Palestine with a statement calling for “meaningful steps to stop the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and reconcile the different Palestinian factions”.

The statement, released  by the Elders’ media office, said Carter and Brundtland “regretted that they were unable to go to Gaza on this visit but expect to have future opportunities to travel there, to witness the situation firsthand”.

The two Elders said they remain convinced that “only a two-state solution can bring a just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians”.

Carter and Brandtland are two of The Elders, “independent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity”.

In her statement following the visit, Brundtland, who is currently the Deputy Chair of The Elders, said:

We came here to visit Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. As you know, we were unable to go to Gaza. We deeply regret not having had the opportunity, on this occasion, to see the situation there at first hand.

However, over the past three days we have received comprehensive briefings from many independent experts, including Israelis and Palestinians and the UNRWA Commissioner-General, which unfortunately have confirmed our worst expectations.

The situation in Gaza is unsustainable and intolerable. A complete paradigm shift is essential. This shift demands the lifting of the siege. It also requires an end to Israel’s policy of separating the West Bank and Gaza.

It demands freedom of access for goods, not least the large amounts of reconstruction material that are so badly needed,

It demands freedom for Gaza to export – to the West Bank, Israel and the rest of the world – so that its economy can be revitalised

It demands freedom of movement for people, so that families can be united, students can study in the West Bank or abroad, and patients can receive the medical care they need.

In short, all the aspects of normal life that people in our own two countries, and in Israel, take for granted.

Without this paradigm shift, which most of the world recognises as vital, we fear that further conflict is inevitable.

In his separate statement, Carter added that “reconciliation between [the Palestinian parties] Fatah and Hamas, and the full establishment of the government of National Consensus in Gaza, is vital to end further suffering”.

trioOn Saturday, the final day of their trip, Carter and Brundtland conferred with Palestine President Abbas in Ramallah.

The Palestinian media news outlet, Ma’an, reported that Abbas used his meeting with the Elders “to emphasize the importance of speeding up reconstruction efforts in Gaza, in particular pressing the need for donor countries to meet their pledges”. 

In Ramallah Saturday, Carter and Brundtland also met with key members of the Palestine Liberation Organization and other political figures to discuss the struggle to achieve Palestinian unity.jimmy-carter-gro-harlem-bru

Included in the discussion were: Nabil Shaath, Husam Zumlot and Mohammed Shtayyeh from Fatah; Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) (Al Mubadara); Majida Al-Masri, Former Minister of Social Affairs; Basam Salhi, Palestinian People’s Party; and Omar Shehada, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Chief Editor of Al-Hadaf Magazine.

Mustafa Barghouti, well-known Palestinian political figure, is at the far right corner in the picture above.  President Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland are across the table at left.

The trip’s original schedule had called for the Elders to travel to Gaza to confer with Hamas and other political figures. That trip was cancelled for reasons still not disclosed.

Before the Elders arrived, Israel’s government had already announced it would not allow any of its leaders to meet with the Elders.  Also forbidden was what would have been essentially a ceremonial visit between Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. 

This is the action of a nation which has locked itself into a self-imposed  isolation from any outside interaction it deems unfriendly.

Israel holds tight military control over the West Bank and Gaza. This suggests that the only reasonable explanation for the cancellation of the Elders’ Gaza visit, is that Israel wanted to hide as much as possible the destruction of Gaza from outsiders, especially those with the influence of the Elders. 

Brundtland, no doubt knows this, but ever the diplomat, she said that while it was unfortunate that she and Carter had not been able to visit the Gaza Strip, she emphasized that they had discussions “with people who know the issues in Gaza.”

Since highlighting the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was one of the delegation’s “key aims” during the visit, they were deprived of first-hand personal observation.

This has not, however, deterred them from using their visit to highlight the suffering in Gaza. which, most recently, was left behind by the devastating Israeli military attacks on Gaza in the summer of 2014.

The Elders said that since their last visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories in October 2012, they have watched “with dismay the intensification of animosity and misunderstanding between the two parties.

Their statement insisted: “the steadily deteriorating situation in Gaza must be reversed: the enclave has been under siege for eight years, and in 2014 suffered the third of three devastating wars since 2008/09.” The statement added, “Reconstruction is painfully slow.”

It was evident in statements following their three-day visit to Israel and a part of Palestine, that Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland will continue to use their influence to end Israel’s self-imposed world isolation, an isolation damaging both to Israel and Palestine.

The two of them, a 90 year old former U.S. president, and his much younger colleague from Norway, have become a crusading international dynamic duo determined to end the immediate Gaza suffering that is both “unsustainable and intolerable”.

The picture at top of former President Carter and former Norway Prime Minister Brundtland, is from The Elders’ website. The second picture is from Ma’an News. The lower picture is from The Elders.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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9 Responses to Gaza Crisis “Unsustainable and Intolerable”

  1. Jim, thank you. You are my prime source of news and analysis, objectively and promptly delivered, relative to the Holy Land. What a sorry-tragic situation that I must write so while the MSM “Fourth Estate” is a despicable appendage of a foreign power.

    I hope I’m not presumptuous in this: I just went back to your just-prior posting and found a (perhaps) final comment that is simply the best of its kind ever read by me. Please allow me to copy-paste it in this current Wallwriting, because it richly deserves to be stated, and restated, and re-restated, until its import finally breaks through the Iron Wall that separates the American people from the Truth. Kudos and shoutouts to Nancy Withington! —

    Nancy Withington says:
    May 2, 2015 at 7:36 pm
    In May 1967 the U.S. Supreme court (in the Beyes Afroyim case) allowed dual U.S./Israeli citizenship. Since then, Israeli “Americans” have assumed high positions in our government, press, corporations, courts, police (who are now trained in Israel!), etc. There has been a hidden coup in the U.S., which is now “occupied territory”.

  2. msmith7701 says:

    Have always admired Jimmy Carter. I went to Plains, GA the evening he was elected, along with all the networks and the crowd gathered at the depot…we are cousins via the Marcus clan.President Carter is remarkable at 90. He is so self giving.

  3. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Thank you, Jim, for continuing to expose Israel’s horrendous stranglehold on Gaza and the rest of Palestine. Representing The Elders, former President Jimmy Carter and Gro Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister, are genuine, honorable leaders who have the amazing determination and unstoppable passion to help the underdog, in this case, the beleaguered people of Gaza and all of Palestine.
    Meantime, Israeli arrogance has reached a new climax of chutzpah, as it snubs the US current and former Presidents, even though it has its begging hand out for many more Billions of Dollars, plus the most sophisticated (US) weapons systems from its benefactor, the world’s supposedly “Only” Superpower. All that, while no US or Western leader dares question Israel’s arsenal of WMD’s.
    The courage of The Elders certainly offers a dramatic contrast with the cowardice of leaders of the Western World.

  4. J. Martin Bailey says:

    Of all the commentators on issues affecting Israel and Palestine, I have come to rely on Jim Wall’s research and insights. Obviously, his contacts in the Middle East as elsewhere are extensive, valuable, and generally reliable. With Jim, I am eager to know why two distinguished world leaders were denied access to Gaza. It has now been several years since I have been in that densely overcrowded area, but the photos and information that have seeped out reveal a truly devastating situation where thousands of human beings are confined against their will and at no fault of their own. The area festers and is just below the boiling point. The circumstances in many parts of the West Bank are tragic as well. The world, with the insights and experience of The Elders, must insist on a free flow of information and essential goods and the opportunities for self government. International bodies, including the UN and its agencies, need to encourage Palestinian unity and a two state solution based on internationally acceptable borders.

  5. I tire of this charade, and it is time someone began calling these shenanigans, what it is.

    I usually love elders, I really do. They are indeed usually forbearers of “the Truth.”

    With due respect to “The Global Elders” I am rather dismayed to put it lightly, by their recent trip to the “Occupied Territories,” primarily for their cowardly and limp-willed lack of forcefulness with Israel.

    All fine rhetoric, the same kind of nicey-nicey talk we have been hearing, over and over again for sixty years now.

    I wrote this piece in 2009, nothing has changed: Global Elders Trip To Middle East (2009):

    Debbie Menon

  6. Paul Larudee says:

    “The two Elders said they remain convinced that ‘only a two-state solution can bring a just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians’.”

    Of course, such a peace will be neither just nor lasting, but will be in violation of international law to the effect that all refugees have the right to return to their homes. It’s not that a two-state solution cannot technically also permit the right of all Palestinian refugees and their families to their original homes in Palestine; it’s just that to do so would render a two-state solution superfluous.

  7. Pauline Coffman says:

    Thank you for this full account of the Elders’ visit, Jim. I note that Israel allowed some construction material into Gaza yesterday, I believe. Coincidence? That’s doubtful.

  8. Robert says:

    It is truly unfortunate that they did not enter Gaza.
    Seeing, smelling, sensing is altogether more powerful than hearing, as I discovered on my recent visit there. Indeed, in my telling of the story, many experienced Gaza watchers are shocked, yet know that it is a cheap substitute for first-hand experience.

  9. Patricia says:

    Bob Stiver offered the issue that Americans must be aware, the dual Israel/American citizenship and the inroads of these people into our American government not only federal but state. This is our challenge, to stop this over taking of America by Zionist. Remove the “cancer”!

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