Three members of The Elders, a group of international elder statesmen convened
by Nelson Mandela, visited Gaza on Saturday and spent the day with local opinion
leaders, human rights activists, business people, women’s organizations, UN
officials and local authorities.
In a press statement issued following
the visit, former Irish president and UN human rights commissioner Mary
Robinson, former Indian parliamentarian Ela Bhatt and former Algerian foreign
minister Lakhdar Brahimi called the isolation of Gaza “illegal collective
punishment,” and “an impediment to peace.”
The group is on a weeklong
visit to the Middle East to encourage support across the region for the current
final-status negotiations. They also want to draw attention to what they called
“the political isolation of the Hamas leadership” from the peace process.