Avoiding a Broader Middle East War – Building Bridges for Peace in Palestine-Israel

CONFLICT RESOLUTION - MEDIATION, 8 Jan 2024

Vijay Mehta – TRANSCEND Media Service

Introduction

6 Jan 2024 – While wars continue in Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan, we discuss whether and how bloodshed and killing can be stopped. Can the international community stop the spillover of this conflict to Syria, Yemen, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Bahrain and possibly others? Is there any humanity left as children, women and innocent civilians are being slaughtered by Israel with the backing of military-political establishments of US, NATO and some European countries like the UK?

The West, particularly United States and other European governments that pride themselves to adherence to the Rule of Law have yet so far limited their roles to public relation pressures on Israel but turn a blind eye to the continuation of war. Israel’s military campaign against the civilian population of Gaza amounts to violation of UN Charter, Human Rights, law, morality and human decency.

The so called liberal democracies of the West continue to lend support in Israel’s destruction of Gaza and killing of Palestinians amounting to severe war crimes. The mainstream western media is complicit and fails to condemn the atrocities of Israel against defenceless Palestinians by targeting hospitals and schools. The media fail to challenge and expose lies of Biden and Netanyahu governments.

According to data maintained by Forum on Arms Trade, Biden administration is working to give Israel £14 billion to continue the slaughter. US weapon manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, RTX, Boeing, General Dynamics are some of the companies who are making a huge profit and their stock prices sky-rocketed, all funded by the US tax payers. In 2024, USA has announced in military spending budget of $886 billion and so has Russia of $140 billion so that the wars in Gaza and Ukraine can continue.

Widening the Middle East Conflict

With all these weapons, chaos and turmoil in the region, there is a high probability that the Israel – Palestine conflict may turn into a major war involving Syria, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, Turkey and possibly others. The war might become a regional war lasting many years.

Hezbollah Shia Militia in Lebanon is firing on Northern Israeli towns and villages in solidarity with Palestinians. Houthi forces in Yemen have attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea with real or perceived Israeli connections. The US has moved two aircraft carriers to the region as its bases in Syria and Iraq came under attack, drawing swift retaliation.

As a result of continuing Israeli attacks, there will be more terrorism, against the west and antisemitism will increase with criticism of Israel. This will also result in more refugees to handle whose number is already more than 110 million and increasing.

All these including Red Sea ship attacks by Houthis, have a sign of wider Middle East conflict – on all fronts in Gaza, on the Lebanon border involving Syria, Iran, Yemen and possibly others.

According to Armed Conflict, from 7th October to 24 November, there were at least 7,283 pro-Palestinian protests took place in more than 118 countries from Jakarta to San Francisco against Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza which has killed more than 20,000 people including more than 8,000 children, still it is endorsed by US and many other European countries who remain silent and do not condemn Israel.

Among the actions, South Africa has taken Israel to International Court of Justice (ICJ) for perpetrating genocide in Gaza and if accepted, will solidify the perception that Israel has already committed genocide in Gaza.

There is a dire need for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza strip, all parties and their proxies in the conflict to sit down and draw a workable plan to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.

Solutions and Way Forward

  • A UN Coordinator should see if humanitarian aid is flowing regularly, and also reconstruction and rehabilitation of Palestinians can take place.
  • A two-state solution – creation of an independent and sovereign state for both Israelis and Palestinians, co-existing side by side, is still remains the only viable solution, although support of it is at its lowest level at present.
  • Direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders to reach a comprehensive and mutually acceptable agreement with the help of all parties to the dispute including proxies. International involvement including the UN is vital to a long term peace in the area. The role of activists, community and religious leaders and celebrities is vital to build the bridges divided by the conflict.
  • The security concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians should be addressed through the establishment of mechanisms to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Encourage people to people initiatives that promote dialogue and cooperation for building bridges between the two societies.
  • To promote economic development and cooperation in the region which will provide initiatives for peace and contribute to stability.
  • Implement educational reforms that promote understanding of coexistence discouraging hate speech and stereotypes.

Time has come when no country can any longer solve its problems by going to war, however complex the situation may be, but the solution has to be via ceasefire, peace and cooperation. All parties to the dispute need to work for a more peaceful, equal and sustainable world.

Although things look dark at present, efforts have to be made for a lasting peace by both Israelis and Palestinians which must be inclusive, fair and respectful of the rights and aspirations of both the communities. A lasting peace requires commitment from all parties involved as well as support of international community. The path to peace and resolution is challenging, and ongoing efforts and dialogue are necessary to make progress towards a just and lasting peace. When the world unites and demand change, the most entrenched conflicts can find light at the end of the tunnel.

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Vijay Mehta is an author and peace activist. He is chair of Uniting for Peace, founding trustee of Fortune Forum charity, and board member of GAMIP-Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace. His books include: The Economics of Killing (Pluto Press, 2012); Peace Beyond Borders (New Internationalist, 2016; and the most recent How Not To Go To War (New Internationalist, 2019) where he proposes that in countries and communities, in governments, private institutions and media, Peace Departments and Peace Centres be established to report on and promote peace.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Jan 2024.

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