Israel-Hamas conflict: Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says four-day pause in fighting should be extended

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has said the four-day pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas should be extended. 

Clark believes Kiwis must play their part in ongoing negotiations for a two-state solution. 

Clark, who led the United Nations development programme, stressed to Newshub Nation on Saturday that there is a job for the "global community" during the pause. 

"I think the global community would like to see that space extend, because a four-day pause and then returning to the horrific scenes that we've been seeing is obviously not good," Clark said.

"So the issue will be whether these four days go reasonably smoothly with the exchange of peoples, and then whether there can be persuasion to extend it - otherwise the horror goes on, and it has been horrific." 

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark spoke with Newshub Nation on Saturday morning.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark spoke with Newshub Nation on Saturday morning. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Clark said there hasn't been willingness on either side since Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands "a long time ago". 

"We've had these years and years of drift, and the internationally supported agreement was to move towards the two states." 

She said despite the conflict being "so horrific" she believes "it's the time all actors come together". 

"Those who have some influence with Israel, and some who have influence with Palestinians to say 'Enough, we've had enough, do we want to see this cycle of violence to continue for the rest of our lives and beyond'," she said. 

Clark described the situation between Israel and Hamas as "being like a mutually assured destruction". 

"If both sides want an optimal outcome, which is erasing each other, then yes the cycles will repeat themselves for the rest of our lifetime and beyond," she explained.

However, she said it's not what most people on the ground, on both sides, want. 

"What do most human beings want? They want to live in security, and they want to have hopes for their future and family. They don't want to be subject to persistent threats to their physical security, you can't live like that." 

She believes the pressure should "come from beneath". 

"The Israeli government deciding to move towards this particular release, I think it's been the hostages' families - they have been saying 'Look this has been going for several weeks, we want our families home'," she said. 

"So that speaks to me about just ordinary families wanting a life where they are safe," Clark added. 

Speaking as part of The Elders group, Clark has written to Joe Biden about building a new coalition of peace for a serious peace plan. 

When asked what the plan would look like, Clark described the plan as a "big ask given where we have been over these past few weeks". 

"Our letter to Joe Biden was to say now is the time for the US to take leadership in really bringing parties together for a two-state solution." 

"The US can't do that on its own," she admitted. "However, it clearly has a level of influence with Israel, but there are other actors who have influence with others," she continued. 

She believes it's going to take "a big coalition of external actors" to push everybody in the same direction. 

"The Egypt and the Gulf states in Jordan are very important in the Arab world," Clark explained. 

"China has been quite quiet but remember China just in recent months effected a reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia of some kind, so don't overlook that there are other actors that also have some influence. 

"Russia has influence with Iran, which has influence over Hezbollah and Syria, and through to Hamas," she added. 

"Now this might seem like an unlikely grouping, but I think everyone wants to see an end to this particular conflict, so somehow there has to be the diplomacy that brings people together around this issue." 

Clark said New Zealand did the right thing by "voting for a resolution in the general assembly". 

"It didn't use the ceasefire language, but what it called for is a sustained humanitarian truce," she said. 

"That's what we all want. We are all affected by disruption there." 

She said Kiwis must continue to "be a voice for movement towards the cessation of hostilities which will lead to negotiations for a two-state solution".

"That's where our voice must be."