Donor governments will gather in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, following the devastating conflict that killed and injured thousands and destroyed much of the territory’s infrastructure. The Cairo talks are a critical first step to restore peace and stability in this war-torn part of the world.
Yet If lasting peace is to come to Israelis and Palestinians, both sides need to return to the negotiating table in a spirit of openness and collaboration, supported by the global community. That’s a view shared by many we've listened to over the past months. As a global group of leaders we not only all feel that dialogue is the only way out of this crisis but we are also committed to supporting the long-term reconstruction of Palestinian Territories.
Together, we are issuing the following statement:
With an open-ended ceasefire now in effect, there is real hope that both sides will work together on a lasting solution that will break the cycle of violence and chart a course to a peaceful future. This brutal conflict has caused immense suffering for decades. Our hearts go out to all the families who have lost loved ones. Thousands have been killed, many of whom are innocent civilians, including a large number of women and children. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced as homes and critical infrastructure has been destroyed.
Millions in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and many surrounding countries continue to live with the daily fear of bloodshed and violence. It is clear that the use of force will never bring about a long-term solution. Lasting peace will only be achieved through dialogue, held in a spirit of compromise. As business leaders, we stand ready to support every effort that will bring much-needed peace and stability to the region. This will require a sustained effort to settle the issues that have divided Israelis and Palestinians for so long.
It is up to all of us to support this process to ensure that they can live in peace with the dignity they deserve.
Together with 1.7 million people in the Avaaz movement we encourage business leaders all over the world to join our call for a long-term solution for peace:
• We call on all parties to undertake every effort to ensure that the current ceasefire endures, to renounce violence and to work collectively to negotiate a lasting peace.
• We urge the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership to resume negotiations and work towards a two-state solution as the best option to ensure lasting peace and security. This will require addressing a number of critical issues, including the Israeli settlements in Palestinian Territories, improving access to land and water and facilitating cross-border trade and travel.
• We commit, once both sides agree to a long-term solution, to supporting the economic empowerment of Palestinians and the long-term reconstruction of Palestinian Territories through sustained investment.
Please join us. Go to Avaaz to add your name to the growing list of business leaders who are stepping up to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis can enjoy peace, dignity and prosperity.
- Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group and Co-Chair, The B Team & Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate & B Team Leader
Co-Signatories: Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman, the Portland Trust; Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief, the Huffington Post & B Team Leader; Mo Ibrahim, Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation & B Team Leader; Jean Oelwang, CEO, Virgin Unite; Randy Newcomb, President & CEO, Humanity United; Jochen Zeitz, Co-Chair, The B Team
Background image from Getty Images