Message by Nelson Mandela on the signing of the Geneva Accord

November 2003

We regret not being able to attend in person the signing of this very important initiative towards peace in Israel and Palestine.

Allow us through this medium to express our strongest support for the “Geneva Initiative” and the “People’s Voice” petition accompanying it.

You, the people of Israel and Palestine, have suffered too much; too much suffering has been visited upon you; you have inflicted too much suffering on yourselves and on each other.

Your conflict and suffering have brought pain to all of us in the world. As long as you are not at peace the world cannot be at peace.

Apartheid lay heavily on the consciousness and conscience of the entire world. Your conflict has a similar universal effect; we all feel that we share in the moral burden and responsibility of that conflict.

If you emancipate yourself from violence, destructive conflict and the bitterness of hatred and fear, you emancipate all of us.

One of the most important lessons I learnt in my life of struggle for freedom and peace is that in any conflict there comes a point when neither side can claim to be right and the other wrong, no matter how much that might have been the case at the start of a conflict.

You have long passed that point.

You, the people of Israel and Palestine, must now give the lead to your leaders; taking your societies beyond hatred and fear; recognising that achieving the peaceful co-existence between a sovereign and viable state of Palestine and a safe and secure state of Israel is your responsibility.

Peace is not a distant end that suddenly appears at the end of violent means. You must be committed to peace while you struggle to end a conflict.

This initiative powerfully sends that message on behalf of Palestinian and Israeli people.

We are humbled in adding our voice of support to such a courageous undertaking, talking of peace where the voices of guns and bombs speak so loudly.

May the voice of ordinary people, who like all others over the world, only ask for lives of peace and dignity, at last triumph in your lands.

Shalom, Salaam, Peace be with you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation