Controversial Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree Mary Robinson is in Israel this week as part of a group called The Elders, which also includes former President Jimmy Carter and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu. Robinson told the Jerusalem Post a settlement freeze is essential for Israel:
Former Irish president and UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson warned on Thursday that if Israel does not freeze settlement construction, a two-state solution may no longer be possible.
"The balance is tipping and if it tips, there will not be a two-state solution and how would that make Israel safer?" asked Robinson, in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post.
She is here as part of a delegation of veteran world leaders known as The Elders.
"A one-state solution has huge implications. So for the sake of being able to have a two-state solution, we need a freeze on settlements," she said.
Robinson did say the Palestinians had some responsibility as well, including bringing Hamas into the tent:
"On the Palestinian side, there needs to be much more responsibility to come together in a responsible way, as the PA and Hamas and Fatah and other elements must be much more urgent on the discussions that they are having in Egypt.
"There is no time to delay on this and the civil society we are meeting are becoming impatient on leadership and want more leadership," she said.
And she wants to Israel to help on that by removing the Gaza blockade:
"I believe that if there is to be peace, there has to be reconciliation among the factions on the Palestinian side, and that must be fostered. And one of the ways to do that is to ease and hopefully remove the blockade.
"I am aware of the security concerns, they are very real and I don’t underestimate them. But the real security is the lasting peace, and that we know from Ireland. I can go to Belfast now. It’s a thriving cultural city, and now when I travel from Dublin to Belfast, I don’t even feel anything when I cross the border," Robinson said.
As for Tutu, he told Haaretz Thursday that U.S. Jewish organizations intimidate their critics (remarkably similar to Robinson’s "bullying" comments earlier this month about Israel supporters after the White House chose her to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom):
He also slammed Jewish organizations in the United States, saying they intimidate anyone who criticizes the occupation and rush to accuse these critics of anti-Semitism. Tutu recalled how such organizations pressured U.S. universities to cancel his appearances on their campuses.
“That is unfortunate, because my own positions are actually derived from the Torah. You know God created you in God’s image. And we have a God who is always biased in favor of the oppressed.”