‘Elders’ group of ex-world leaders rails against Israeli sovereignty

The Elders, led by ex-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, claimed Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria “will increase the risks of future violence in one of the most combustible areas in the world.”

By Ebin Sandler, World Israel News

The Elders, a group of ex-world leaders co-chaired by former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and ex-Irish President Mary Robinson, in addition to Nelson Mandela’s widow Graca Machel, urged the European Union (EU) on Friday to sanction Israel over its plans to extend sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, where half a million Israelis currently live.

The Elders claim that Israeli sovereignty will “destroy[] hopes in a two-state compromise [and] will increase the risks of future violence in one of the most combustible areas in the world,” The Associated Press reported.

According to the Elders,  sovereignty “is fundamentally contrary to the long-term interests of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.”

In furtherance of that position, the Elders urged EU leaders to suspend its Association Agreement with Israel, which would have economic and political ramifications for the Jewish state.

Israel planned to move forward with sovereignty on July 1, but the process has been delayed due to a spike in coronavirus infections and logistical hurdles. Resistance from Israel’s allies on the world stage is also factoring into the plan’s advancement, with UK prime minister Boris Johnson coming out publicly against sovereignty in a front-page article on Wednesday in Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot.

In that op-ed, Johnson claimed to be a “passionate defender of Israel,” but argued sovereignty over Judea and Samaria “will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”

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The United Nations and much of the Arab world have lined up against Israeli sovereignty, though certain Mideast experts have expressed skepticism that Arab leaders will mount any lasting opposition to the  move.

According to Harold Rhode, a former U.S. State Department on Islamic affairs, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is “bluffing” with regard to threats related to Israeli sovereignty.

“History shows us that this is almost assuredly just bluster,” Rhode told Israel Hayom, referring to Abbas’ comments as the “hold me back or I’ll commit suicide strategy.”

Rhode also referred to Abbas and other Arab leaders’ pattern of telling constituents one thing while communicating a different message to diplomats and Israeli officials.

“Past history shows us that whatever they say in public, they will most likely find a way to cooperate in private,” said Rhode. “Abbas and other senior officials are running a racket and the money for the Palestinians is going straight to their own foreign bank accounts, so they have the most to lose.”