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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Foreign Minister Penny Wong

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

President Volodomyr Zelensky

President Vladimir Putin

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov



Dear President Zelensky, Prime Minister Albanese, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Foreign Minister Lavrov:


I am writing with respect to the conflicts both in Gaza and between Russia and Ukraine.


In both cases I wish to urge both a Christmas truce, and exploration of the option of extending the Christmas truce hopefully indefinitely.


Spontaneous Christmas truces, in which soldiers simply refused to fight and instead fraternised with the so-called 'enemy' took place in the 1914-18 war that the war between Russia and Ukraine so much resembles.


One would have to say that back then, the instinctual actions of troops on the ground we not only morally correct, but that they were also politically, tactically and strategically correct and that the actions of Governments in putting an end to the truce and the fraternisation were short sighted and misguided in the extreme. Those truces represented an opportunity for peace that governments refused to take and that would not take place again until as late as 1945.


The idea of a 'christmas truce' has been criticised precisely for its greatest virtue – that it might lead to an extended truce and to an ongoing peace.


It is absolutely to be hoped and prayed for that it does just that – in both Gaza and Ukraine.


Israel's project of eliminating Hamas is most likely unrealisable, and the human cost of attempting to do so is simply unacceptable. As the twitter-feeds of the entire world fill up with dead babies and children as well as adults, and as the bodycount mounts, Israel must ask itself if it is not merely repeating Herod's massacre of the innocents on a much much larger scale. The moral calculus DOES matter. Blood on the hands (literal or figurative) is more than a merely ritual defilement. Israel may have a right to exist but that right does not entitle it to do anything and everything, and in any case, its existence is in no way threatened by the puny efforts of HAMAS however despicable those may be. The events of Oct 7 2023 may have been unjustifiable (though those who weigh the moral balance, including the God of Israel) must also place into the balance the monstrous sufferings of the Palestinian people.


If Israel were to offer a truce immediately it could start a much longer term process of achieving a middle-east settlement. At the very least there would be a pause, hopefully an indefinitely long one, in the trauma and bloodshed.


The same considerations apply in spades to Ukraine.


In attacking Ukraine in February 2022, Russia displayed unbridled imperialist aggression. It is hardly possible to be neutral in this matter. Ukraine is not Russia and Russia is not Ukraine. The two counties have histories that are intertwined and their borders have shifted over centuries, but they are quite distinct and have existed side by side for centuries.


Yet the conflict is shaping up to be one of the bloodiest in history, and has no end in sight.


An easy victory – or any kind of victory at all – for either side is not realistically on the agenda. Tens of thousands die for territorial gains that are often a few square metres or at best single kilometres, as in WW-I.


Both sides talk narratives of complete victory over the other side that are simply nonsense no matter who gives whom what military equipment.


Yes, a Christmas truce might – hopefully WILL – morph into something more long-term.


This is infinitely better than the still very real risk that a Russia-Ukraine conflict might actually escalate into a nuclear exchange that would of course, end what we call or miscall 'civilisation'. In the event of a NATO-Russia nuclear exchange most humans would die in the subsequent nuclear winter. Recovery could take centuries.


Unless one side simply ceases to exist, which is not going to happen, wars stop when 'war war' is replaced by 'jaw jaw'. Once more, a longer-term process of working out the relationship between Russia and Ukraine must take place.


A Christmas truce would give a window of opportunity to replace war war with jaw jaw, and to end a conflict that is the largest since the end of WW-II.


I urge Russia and Ukraine to take this opportunity and I urge Israel and Palestine to do likewise.


John Hallam

People for Nuclear Disarmament

Human Survival Project

Co-Convenor, Abolition 2000 Working Group on Nuclear Risk Reduction

Member, Global No First Use Steering Committee

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