On the occasion of the signing on December 1 of the “Geneva Initiative”—a blueprint for peace negotiated by teams of Israelis and Palestinians led by former ministers Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo—we express our strong support both for this and the “People’s Voice” petition initiated by Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh.

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has taken far too great a toll already. Both peoples have paid dearly in lives and livelihood in a war which both are losing. Every passing day undermines the prospects for a peaceful, two-state solution. As long as the conflict endures, it will be a source of instability and violence for the region and the international community as a whole.

We believe that the best way to move forward is to address at the outset, not at the end of an incremental process, all the basic principles of a fair and lasting solution. Postponing the final outcome makes any progress hostage to extremists on both sides. A process must be devised to give practical and political expression to the heartfelt desire of clear majorities on both sides to end this conflict once and for all.

The Geneva and People’s Voice initiatives both reflect that public opinion, and can help give it new momentum. On the Israeli side, they can help undo the myths taking hold since the collapse of the peace process and the onset of violence: that the Palestinian people are not prepared to accept a two-state solution and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. On the Palestinian side, they can offer an alternative to the current mindset that sees in violence the only possible means of ending the occupation. They send a powerful signal that an alternative to the current situation exists. They have the potential to transform the domestic political dynamics on both sides.

International support will be crucial to translate these endeavors into a concrete mechanism to bring about a lasting peace. The international players most relevant for this purpose—the US, the EU, Russia, the UN “Quartet,” and the members of the Arab League—should wholeheartedly back these initiatives. They should urge both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to be guided by the outcomes most of their peoples want. And they should make clear their own willingness to lend all the political, economic, and military support needed to help implement a comprehensive peace agreement.

The Israeli and Palestinian peoples, by making clear their belief in the Geneva and People’s Voice initiatives, can help turn the principles embodied in them into reality. You can count on our support in this endeavor.

Hon. Richard V. Allen
Former National Security Advisor to the President

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former National Security Advisor to the President

Hon. Frank C. Carlucci
Former Secretary of Defense

Hon. Warren M. Christopher
Former Secretary of State

Dr. W. Anthony Lake
Former National Security Advisor to the President

Hon. Robert C. McFarlane
Former National Security Advisor to the President

Hon. Robert S. McNamara
Former Secretary of Defense

Thomas R. Pickering
Former Ambassador to the United Nations

Martti Ahtisaari
Former President, Finland

Ali Alatas
Former Foreign Minister, Indonesia

George Alleyne
Former Director, Pan American Health Organization

Oscar Arias Sánchez
Former President, Costa Rica, Nobel Peace Prize 1987

Lloyd Axworthy
Former Foreign Minister, Canada

Alexander Bessmertnykh
Former Foreign Minister, Soviet Union

Carl Bildt
Former Prime Minister, Sweden

Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Former UN Secretary-General

Lakhdar Brahimi
Former Foreign Minister, Algeria

Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Former President, Brazil

Ingvar Carlsson
Former Prime Minister, Sweden

Lord Carrington
Former Foreign and Defense Secretary, UK, and NATO Secretary-General

Jorge Castañeda
Former Foreign Minister, Mexico

Claude Cheysson
Former Foreign Minister, France

Jacques Delors
Former President, European Commission

Jirí Dienstbier
Former Foreign Minister, Czechoslovakia

Ruth Dreifuss
Former President, Switzerland

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Foreign Minister, Denmark

Gareth Evans
Former Foreign Minister, Australia

Mark Eyskens
Former Foreign and Prime Minister, Belgium

José María Figueres
Former President, Costa Rica

Malcolm Fraser
Former Prime Minister, Australia

Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Former Foreign Minister, Germany

Bronislaw Geremek
Former Foreign Minister, Poland

Mikhail S. Gorbachev
Former President, Soviet Union, Nobel Peace Prize 1990

I.K. Gujral
Former Prime Minister, India

Bob Hawke
Former Prime Minister, Australia

Bill Hayden
Former Governor-General and Foreign Minister, Australia

Raffi K. Hovannisian
Former Foreign Minister, Armenia

F.W. de Klerk
Former President, South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize 1993

Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister, Netherlands

Masahiko Komura
Former Foreign Minister, Japan

Budimir Loncar
Former Foreign Minister, Yugoslavia

Barbara McDougall
Former External Affairs Secretary, Canada

Gianni de Michelis
Former Foreign Minister, Italy

Boyko Noev
Former Defense Minister, Bulgaria

Sadako Ogata
Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Lord Owen
Former Foreign Secretary, UK

Surin Pitsuwan
Former Foreign Minister, Thailand

Augusto Ramírez-Ocampo
Former Foreign Minister, Colombia

Fidel V. Ramos
Former President, Philippines

Jerry John Rawlings
Former President, Ghana

Mary Robinson
Former President, Ireland

Michel Rocard
Former Prime Minister, France

Nafis Sadik
Former Executive Director, UN Population Fund

Salim Ahmed Salim
Former Prime Minister, Tanzania, and Secretary-General, OAU

Cornelio Sommaruga
Former President, International Committee of the Red Cross

Kalevi Sorsa
Former Prime Minister, Finland

Eduardo Stein
Former Foreign Minister, Guatemala

Pär Stenbäck
Former Foreign Minister, Finland

Max van der Stoel
Former Foreign Minister, Netherlands

Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Foreign Minister, Norway

Hanna Suchocka
Former Prime Minister, Poland

Alex Sceberras Trigona
Former Foreign Minster, Malta

George Vassiliou
Former President, Cyprus

Hubert Védrine
Former Foreign Minister, France

Franz Vranitzky
Former Federal Chancellor, Austria

Ernesto Zedillo
Former President, Mexico

(This letter was circulated by the International Crisis Group, an independent, nonprofit multinational organization dedicated to the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict.)

This Issue

January 15, 2004