Beyond the ceasefire | By Malik M Ashraf

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Beyond the ceasefire


AFTER eleven days of incessant aerial strikes and missile attacks on Gaza by Israel which left more than 250 people dead including children and women and nearly half of the city reduced to rubbles, the two sides finally agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt with nod from the US.

It was surely an outcome of the intense pressure that OIC, China, Norway, other countries and some saner voices within the US like Senator Bernie Sanders built on the US President.

Pakistan, like always, also played a very pro-active role within the OIC and at the UN General Assembly meeting besides lobbying with other countries to have the mayhem stopped.

Foreign Minister Shah Mashmood in a hard hitting speech at the UNGA condemning the Israel action also castigated the role of the US without naming her while demanding implementation of resolution 242 and deployment of the international force in the area to prevent recurrence of similar catastrophe.

The cessation of hostilities has come as a sigh of relief for all those who could not stand the spectacle of death and destruction and have been making strenuous efforts to put an end to the blood-shed.

It could have been stopped much earlier but regrettably the US and many of its allies failed to play their role in stopping Israel from genocide of the Palestinians and some of them even put the blame on Hamas.

The Canadian Prime Minister said that missile attack by Hamas at Israel was not acceptable, not realizing that Hamas only retaliated after the Israeli attack. If Israel had the right to defend itself so does Hamas to defend itself.

Other European countries also took a similar line.
The US thwarted the attempts for a consensus statement of the UNSC on the snow-balling situation with the result that the world body could not play its peace keeping role.

Probably the US wanted to give more time to Israel to achieve its military objective as is corroborated by the statement of the Press Secretary of the White House Jen Psaki who commenting on the ceasefire reports said “We have seen reports of a move towards ceasefire.

That is clearly encouraging. We believe the Israelis have achieved significant military objectives that they laid out to achieve, in relation to protecting their people and to responding to the thousands of rocket attacks from Hamas. So that’s why in part that we feel they’re in a position to start winding their operation down”.

The indifference shown by the US and some of the European countries towards the unfolding human tragedy in Gaza is tantamount to endorsement of the genocide of Palestinians and reflects on their so-called humanitarian credentials and belief in judicious causes. It is not for the first time that Israel has perpetrated the holocaust on the Palestinians.

The current blitzkrieg was continuation of myriad of such cataclysmic enactments by Israel. It killed 3000 Palestinians at Saba and Shatila refugee camps in 1982.

Who can forget a similar carnage in 2009 and 2014?
On all such occasions the only outcome of the international efforts has been clinching of a ceasefire and not looking beyond it.

Until and unless the Palestinian issue is resolved in conformity with resolution 242 of the UNSC which presented the two-state solution, the recurrence of such tragedies cannot be halted.

The resolution called on the Arab states to accept Israel’s right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force and declared the inadmissibility of occupation of land by war.

It also called upon Israel to vacate the territories occupied during the war and reiterated establishment of an independent state of Palestine on contiguous land with Jerusalem as its capital. Arab states and Israel accepted the resolution.

UNSC and General Assembly have also adopted several other resolutions endorsing the two-state solution and forbidding Israel from setting up Jewish settlement on the Palestinian land.

But Israel in blatant defiance of these resolutions has continued building more settlements adding further complexity to the situation, regrettably with the tacit approval of the self-styled adjudicators of the world who see things more through the prism of their global strategic interests which has no room for humanity.

Those objectives are pursued with ruthless disdain to other considerations. The biggest supporter of Israel is the US.

Protection of Israel has been the corner stone of its foreign policy. It has always protected Israel and used its veto to thwart any condemnation of Israeli actions at the UNSC.

The US and its western allies invariably come up with the notion that Israel had the right to defend itself and many of them regard Hamas as a terrorist entity, in complete disregard to the ground realities.

In fact it is Israel which invariably has been the aggressor and it has been carrying out such operations with impunity.

But this cannot go on indefinitely. Israel and Palestine have to co-exist. It is an inevitable reality.

The continuation of this situation is harmful for both the Palestinians as well as for the Israelis.

There can be no peace where there is oppression. Both the Palestinians and Israelis need peace.

The only way it can come is the earnest implementation of the UN resolution 242.

The implementation of the resolution can prove to be a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.

Sooner that message sinks in the mind of the only superpower in the world the better it would be for peace and tranquillity in the Middle East and beyond.

The Muslim countries can contribute tremendously to the required change in US thinking provided they show impregnable political unity among them and stand united to pursue this objective.

— The writer is former Director General Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, based in Islamabad.