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05/14/2021

International positions and actions concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict

With the recent attacks of Israel on Palestinians and the response from Palestinian Organizations as well the Palestinian population, international diplomatic efforts have also accelerated.

United World International has  therefore prepared a dossier on the position and actions of major international actors and countries

Egypt: Frequent cease-fire mediator

Egypt, southern neighbor and only exit of the Gaza Strip, is supporting the two-state-solution with a sovereign Palestinian state in the borders on 1967.

Foreign Minister Shoukry has declared on the recent attacks that Egypt condemns Israel’s brutal practices, and considers them a violation of international law, undermining the chances of reaching a two-state solution, and a threat to security and stability in the region”.

Egypt is pursuing an active diplomacy on the matter. It has held several meetings with Jordan, France and Germany. These countries have made a joint declaration on April 1st to the UN, declaring their support for the two-state-solution and the so-called Middle East Peace Process.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has since the escalation contacted various international actors, among them its Israeli counterpart,

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Germany and the European Union as well as the US.

Egypt also has attempted a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, as reports the Israeli press, unsuccessful until now.

An Egyptian delegation has first met with Hamas officials and then travelled to Tel Aviv on Thursday, but its ceasefire proposal was rejected by Israel. The Ministerial Cabinet for Political and Security Affairs, which was held late Wednesday, decided unanimously to reject all ceasefire efforts that Israel received, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said on Thursday.

Cairo had mediated ceasefires between Palestinians and Irsael various times before. 

Kingdom of Jordan: Neighbor to Jerusalem and custodian of holy sites

The Kingdom of Jordan is the neighbor of the Palestinian West Bank to the East, and it has, since the Israeli-Jordanian peace accord from 1994, the custody over the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem that came under İsraeli attack.

Jordan defends also the two-state-solution and has, just as Egypt, also diplomatic relations with Israel. Protesters have demanded in the capital Amman the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador.

Jordan has strong ties to the Palestinian Authority lead by Mahmud Abbas of Al Fatah, and no official ties to the Hamas governing the Gaza Strip.

The Jordanian government called Israel’s attack “barbaric”, while King Abdullah “accused Israel of trying to change the demographic status” of Jerusalem.

The Jordanian King has held diplomatic contacts with several regional countries, among them Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Tunisia and Iraq.

Lebanon: officially in a state of war with Israel

Lebanon is Israel’s northern neighbor, but the two countries have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006 and was defeated, but the war was not concluded with a peace accord.

Lebanon also defends the two-state solution. The Foreign Ministry has commented on the Israeli attacks by evaluating these as “ethnic cleansing”. It has called the international community to “take urgent and immediate action to deter the repeated attacks of the Israeli enemy against the brotherly Palestinian people and Al-Aqsa Mosque,” stressing “the need to confront the continued Israeli intransigence and stop the Israeli settlement and displacement activities in the occupied city of Jerusalem.”

Syria: actively fighting Israel

Another country that is in war with Israel is Syria. Israel has occupied the Golan Heights, which Damascus claims Syrian territory, and several times in the last years attacked military and civilian positions inside Syria.

Syria also defends the independent Palestinian state in the borders on 1967 and calls the Israeli forces to retreat behind these.

On May 12th, Iranian Foreign Minister visited Damascus and met with Syria’s President Assad, where the Palestinian issue was also discussed.

Syria has long had supported the Hamas, which had a representation in Damascus. With the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011, Hamas criticized the Assad Government’s reaction to protests and later closed its Damascus office.

But recent reports indicate that Iran is initiating a rapprochement between the Syrian government and Hamas, supported by mediation of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Iran: Israel is non-existent

Iran is allied with Syria and is supporting both the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad organizations that are leading an armed struggle against Israel and in favor of Palestine.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif spoke with Hamas leader Ismail Haniye, assuring him of “Iran’s all-out support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause.”

Tehran is in so far very actively supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state. In contradiction to other regional countries, it has no diplomatic ties to Israel and does not recognize the country at all.

Iran’s position therefore is, if taken by letter, a kind of one-state-solution, the only state being Palestine.

The leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Israel only understands the language of force”.

Iran’s President Rouhani stated “The bitter events of the last few days and the crimes of the Zionist regime, more than ever, remind us of the need for unity and cooperation among Islamic countries to confront the Zionists’ bullying and occupation”.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif met in Damascus with various representatives of Palestinian resistance organizations.

Iran has also held various diplomatic contacts to all regional countries on the issue and has urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to take a more active stance.

Turkey: Regional initiatives, mass demonstrations and proposal to send Turkish soldiers to Jerusalem

Turkish government and public opinion also reacted with outright rejection and protest against the Israeli attacks.

Turkey defends also the two-state-solution with Palestine in its borders of 1967. Turkish Presidency has held a wide range of diplomatic contacts, starting with the Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas and Hamas leader Haniyye.

Beyond these Turkey has contacted all regional countries, Pakistan, Algeria, European Countries and Russia.

Turkey has called the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to coordinate a joint answer and has presented a short-term proposal of sending Turkish Soldiers as a peace force to Jerusalem.

A former invitation to Israeli Energy Minister to Antalya was withdrawn by Ankara.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry declared: The events “have once again demonstrated the importance of the international protection of Palestinian civilians within the framework of the decisions of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the UN General Assembly, which were adopted under the leadership of our country in 2018. The only way to prevent such incidents in the occupied territories is to hold Israel responsible for its actions in the international fora.”

Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said that his government presented the OIC the proposal to establish an international peace force in Jerusalem. Çavusoğlu added that this proposal will be carried to the UN by OIC countries and presented to the extraordinary meeting General Assembly.

Turkish President Erdoğan spoke with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on May 12th, where he proposed the establishment of an international peace force with UN approval.

Russia: Two-State-Solution and Quartet Meeting

The Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed his country’s support for a two-state-solution in a phone call with Turkey’s President Erdoğan on May 12. Calling for de-escalation, the Kremlin stated the following:

“At the same time, they noted the Russian and Turkish principled position of support for a dual-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the universally recognised norms of international law. They also highlighted the special role of the international quartet of mediators in the peace process (Russia, the EU, the UN and the United States).”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to the press after a phone call with UN Secretary General Guterres. Lavrov said “we have come to a common understanding that convening a Quartet of international mediators, including Russia, the United States, the UN and the EU, is the most important task at hand.”

Lavrov proposed “establishing a dialogue between the Quartet and the Arab countries that normalized their relations and established diplomatic ties with Israel. Plus, the Palestinians and Israelis themselves.”

China: Two-State-Solution and UN initiative

The People’s Republic of China also expressed support for the two-state-solution. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said on May 13th “as we stressed on many occasions, facing the on-going tensions, China believes that the Security Council should do something to reaffirm commitment and firm support to the two-state solution.”

The spokesperson “also condemns violence targeting civilians”. As chairing the UN Security Council in May, China already has called the council to an emergency meeting, where a statement was prepared. “Most countries supported this draft and called for its early release. However, the Council has yet to reach consensus on it due to the obstruction of a certain country”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokes person said in reference to the US that vetoed the statement.

China has, together with Tunisia and Norway called for a new UNSC meeting on May 14th. This meeting will take place open to the public and with participations of Israeli and Palestinian participants.

But US diplomats rejected the meeting, with Secretary of State Blinken saying “I think we’re looking at early next week. This, I hope, will give some time for the diplomacy to have some effect”. A Chinese diplomat confirmed that the meeting would not take place.

In a commentary in the Chinese Global Times, Li Weijan wrote that the Israel-Palestine conflict should “not be determined by the US alone. China and Russia need to continue to call on the international community to pay wider attention to the problem on multilateral occasions.”

China has traditionally good relations with Palestine and very developed economic relations with Israel.

European countries: supporting the Two-State-Solution, but first solidarity with Israel

European countries officially support the Two-State-Solution. The European Union has been a key actor in financial support to Palestinian Organizations, especially the Palestinian Authority, while the West Bank is also under economic siege by Israel.

The European Commission’s High Representative Josep Borrell made a statement on May12, saying “the grave escalation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the major upsurge in violence in and around Gaza, must stop”. The Representative “recognized Israel’s need to protect civilian population” but called for “maximum restraint” in the use of force.

Josep Borrell called the eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood “illegal under international humanitarian law”.

Borrell spoke on Thursday with Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi and “Reaffirmed the EU’s support to Israel’s security & condemned Hamas indiscriminate firing of rockets”.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Haas said “Hamas has consciously and willingly created the recent escalation”. He called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, referred to Germany’s work in quartet with France, Egypt and Jordan, and said that the problem can only be solved with a “negotiated two-state-solution”.

French Foreign Minister Le Drian made a similar statement, declaring that the quartet is working for “the resumption of dialogue between the parties with a view to a fair and lasting resolution of the conflict, in compliance with international law, Security Council resolutions and internationally agreed parameters”.

The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made similar remarks, condemning Hamas’ rocket attacks, calling for restraint and a diplomatic solution.

Raab also contacted Israeli Foreign Ministry and Palestinian authorities.

Several voices in the UK demanded a stronger reaction. Former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbin, still MP, participated in pro-Palestinian protests in front of Downing Street, saying “Our solidarity here in London is to bring about the permanent peace in which the Palestinian people will no longer ever be under occupation again.”

Former British Foreign Secretary Alan Duncan criticized his country’s government for having “a moral blindspot over the plight of Palestinians”.

The influential British newspaper The Guardian meanwhile declared it was “one of its worst errors of judgment” to have supported more than 100 years the Balfour Declaration, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. The newspaper said in an editorial May 7th that “Israel today is not the country the Guardian foresaw or would have wanted”.

The United States: emphasizing Israel’s “right to self-defense” and blocking UN work amid rising domestic debate

The US Biden administration has declared to support the two-state-solution before being elected. In April, the US also announced to restore 235 million US Dollar aid to Palestinians, which were cancelled under the Trump Administration.

US Secretary of State Blinken described the restoration of funds also as a means to “advance towards a negotiated two-state solution”.

But given the Israeli attacks on Jerusalem’s holy sites, Blinken stated in a phone call with Netanyahu “the United States’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.”

In Meetings with press, President Biden also has emphasized that “Israel has the right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”

The US also has blocked the UNSC’s work on the matter by vetoing a joint statement presented by Norway and Tunisia and supported by the members of the Council. The draft Security Council statement, seen by AFP, would call on Israel to “cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions” including in east Jerusalem. The draft also calls for “exercise of restraint, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and upholding and respecting the historic status quo at the holy sites.” 

The draft has been presented to the UNSC on May 10th, right before the recent escalation of clashes on the Gaza Strip. Blocking a UNSC condemnation of Israel’s activities in east Jerusalem, the Biden Administration has effectively given green light to Israel’s further aggression.

The US also stopped another UNSC meeting on the issue on May 14th, as mentioned above. The US, which currently has no Ambassador in Israel, has sent an envoy to the region, an act which the Los Angeles Times announced as “U.S. steps up response to Israeli-Palestinian conflict after slow start”.

US policy on Israel and Palestine has caused meanwhile considerable debate in Washington itself. Former President Trump said Biden is “encouraging attacks by not backing Israel”, supported by the Republican Party.

A letter written by retired Generals and Admirals, who are considered to be Trump loyalists, called to “continue with the Mideast peace initiatives, the “Abraham Accords,” and support for Israel”.

Democrats on the other side criticized Biden for a neutrality that in effect supports Israeli occupation. Ocasio-Cortez, a high-valued Democrat Representative called President Biden’s declaration “wrong”.

US media is reporting that the so called Progressives are more keen then ever to criticize Israel’s politics and the US approach towards these.

The influential newspaper Washington Post meanwhile published an editorial on May 11th titled “New Israeli-Palestinian fighting serves political agendas on both sides”.

The editorial takes a huge step away from unconditional support of Israel, stating “Mr. Netanyahu might gain from the complication of ongoing negotiations by his political rivals to form a new government, which if successful would leave him with no way to escape prosecution on corruption charges”.

The editorial suggests, “supporting Cairo’s mediation” and warns against “reengagement” with the long-moribund Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.”

Yunus Soner
Political Scientist, former Deputy Chairman of Vatan Party (Turkey) Soner has participated in diplomatic visits to China, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico, among others. He has conducted meetings with President Bashar Al Assad (Syria), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran), President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (Mexico), Manuel Zelaya (Honduras) and Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Finances and Representatives of Parliament from various countries. He has worked on Turkish-Russian, Turkish-Syrian, Turkish-Chinese and Turkish-Egyptian relations as well as on Latin America. Soner has had media participation in various international media channels, among them Russia Today and Sputnik (Russia), CGTN (China), Press TV (Iran), Syrian TV, El Mayaddin (Lebanon) and Telesur (Venezuela) and Turkish media. He has been a columnist to Turkish daily newspaper Aydınlık
 

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