Thu, Oct 05, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Letter calls for settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict

AFP , LONDON

More than 100 former world leaders, foreign ministers, diplomats and religious leaders have put their names to an open letter published in the Financial Times yesterday, urgently calling for progress towards a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Organized by the International Crisis Group and signed by former world leaders such as US president Jimmy Carter, British prime minister John Major, US secretary of defense Robert McNamara, Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, the letter calls for "urgent international action."

"Everyone has lost in this conflict except the extremists throughout the world who prosper on the rage that it continues to provoke. Every passing day undermines prospects for a peaceful, enduring solution," the letter, with 135 signatories, read.

Former UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Dalai Lama and the Reverend Desmond Tutu also signed the letter, which counted eight Nobel Peace Prize winners.

"The goal must be security and full recognition [of] the state of Israel within international recognized borders, an end to the occupation for the Palestinian people in a viable independent, sovereign state and the return of lost land to Syria," the letter read.

It called for a "new international conference, ideally held as soon as possible and attended by all relevant players, at which all the elements of a comprehensive peace agreement would be mapped and momentum gathered for detailed negotiations."

The letter also called for an end to the financial boycott of the Palestinian Authority, the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership and parallel talks between Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

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