Inevitability of co-existence By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

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There are no two opinions about the fact that the creation of the state of Israel on Palestinian land and the eviction of hundreds and thousands of them was a historic injustice. But the tragedy is that changed circumstances and events unfolding on the global chessboard have turned this injustice into the inevitability of coexistence. Even the PLO which was formed in 1964 with the purpose of the ‘liberation of Palestine’ through armed struggle, had to recognise Israel’s right to exist in peace and endorse the UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338 in 1993 which were adopted in the aftermath of Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 respectively. Israel also recognised PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.

Resolution 242 was adopted on November 22, 1967, in an effort to secure a just and lasting peace in the wake of the Six-Day War, fought primarily between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The resolution called on the Arab states to accept Israel’s right to live in peace within secure and recognised 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 suggesting a two-state solution to the issue. Arab states and Israel accepted the resolution. Resolution 338, adopted in the wake of the 1973 war reiterated implementation of Resolution 242.

Since then, about 86 resolutions reiterating two-state solution forbidding Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands have been adopted. Regrettably all those resolutions have been defied by Israel. It continues to add new Jewish settlements on Palestinian land and has also declared to shift its capital to Jerusalem.

Right-wing leaders in Israel including the Likud party of Prime Minister Netanyahu perceive Palestinians as an existentialist threat to Israel. Instead of seeking an end to the hostilities and restoring calm, nearly every single leader of political parties in Israel has advocated more forceful counter attacks to inflict as much damage and loss of human life among the Palestinians as possible. Suppressing the Palestinians and making their lives miserable is the unspoken motto behind a malicious campaign to force as many Palestinians as possible to leave in order to quench their voracious lust to seize Palestinian land. Forced evictions, night raids, unlawful incarceration, uprooting trees and demolition of houses and buildings have become routine—commonplace—while they exploit Palestinian resistance to justify their bigoted policy, oblivious to the fact that ultimately they have to coexist with them, no matter how much they loathe and despise them.

The hell let loose on the people of Gaza for eleven days is yet another manifestation of the inhuman indiscretions by Israel which know very few parallels in the modern history. It is not a fight between foes with military and moral equivalence. It is the enactment of war crimes by mighty military power on the people whose land it has usurped and is trying to browbeat them into accepting the fait accompli.

The tragedy is that this has been happening and continues to happen while those who take pride in their humanitarian credentials, peace and justice remain indifferent to the human tragedy that keeps raising its ugly head from time to time, particularly the US which bears bulk of the responsibility for encouraging Israel to have its way. While the entire world kept emphasising the need for immediate cessation of the hostilities, including OIC, UN Secretary General and some saner voices within the US Senate like Senator Bernie Sanders who strongly condemned Israel actions and asked the President to ensure immediate ceasefire, the US President did not make any credible effort to stop the mayhem. Instead the US thwarted the adoption of a consensus statement on the situation by the UNSC, probably allowing Israel time to achieve the objectives of the military action against Hamas. It also scuttled any move by the UNSC to ensure a ceasefire.

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while addressing the General Assembly rightly said “It is appalling that the (UN) Security Council has been unable to exercise its primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security and even failed to demand cessation of hostilities. Those preventing the Council from doing so bear a heavy responsibility.” He rightly termed Israeli actions as war crimes demanding implementation of resolution 242 as well as the deployment of international forces. In fact, Pakistan played a pro-active role during the recent crisis in mobilising support for the Palestinian cause and nudging the OIC into action. Pakistani parliament also adopted a unanimous resolution condemning Israel and also observed Solidarity Day with Palestinians last Friday.

The conclusion drawn from the history of the conflict is that there is no military solution to it. The powers on the global chess board must accept the inevitability of coexistence between Palestine and Israel as enunciated in the UN Resolutions and also urge upon the latter to realise that living in peace with Palestinian was in the interest of both the people and regional peace. The UNSC bears greater responsibility in this regard as a peacekeeping body. Merely brokering ceasefires to end punishing attacks by Israel is not enough. It will lead to further radicalisation and push the region into a ‘forever’ war.