US moves could escalate tension in ME
TURKEY, Russia and Iran on Friday condemned the US decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s occupied Golan Heights, which constitutes a grave violation of international law particularly the UN Security Council Resolution 497, and threatens peace and security in the Middle East. In a joint statement, the three guarantor countries of the Astana peace process in Syria reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The statement came during a two-day meeting in Nur Sultan, the recently renamed Kazakh capital, following an international meeting on Syria in the Astana format. On March 25, US President Donald Trump had signed a presidential proclamation officially recognising the highlands on the border with Syria as Israel’s territory. Israel had seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 six-day war.
In his earlier move in December 2017, President Trump had formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City. “Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done”, he said. Then in May 2018, President Donald Trump announced his decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in December, calling it a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement. But his step has in fact roiled the peace process, and Trump has been criticized left, right and centre by many countries in the world, and perhaps none of the countries would follow suit.
Palestinians have, indeed, undergone the longest suffering and ordeal in the annals of history. Despite various UN resolutions and accords there seems to be no end in sight to the atrocities perpetrated on them. The problem is that more than five American Presidents promised to get the UN resolutions implemented and that Palestinians would get their State, but they backtracked and did not pressurize Israel to honour its commitments. If America continues to give unqualified support to Israel, the latter will never remove settlements in the West Bank or stop constructing the new ones. The Oslo Accord was based on the principle of “Land for Peace”, and the US was a guarantor for implementation of the agreement. But Israel would not implement it. Even former President Bush’s ‘road map’ had been shredded into bits by Israel when Sharon had unilaterally announced to withdraw from Gaza Strip years ago instead of broader agreement.
It is too well known that the Israeli lobby afflicts US Congress and the President. The immense power of the Jewish lobby is a proven fact, and nobody on Capitol Hill will dare defy this all-powerful lobby. However, the unvarnished truth is that the US suffered the terror of September 11 because of its support to Israel. It is an irrefutable fact that during 1967 War Israel had deliberately attacked USS Liberty with unmarked fighters and torpedo boats causing 174 American casualties in an attempt to blame Egypt and garner American support. It had tricked America into bombing other nations such as the attack on Libya in 1986. Apart from other reasons, the date the terrorists chose for attacking World Trade Centre and Pentagon on 9/11, which was the anniversary of the League of Nations proclaiming the British Mandate in 1922 that paved the way for the creation of Palestine.
Anyhow, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3236 of 22nd November 1974 had recognized the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty in Palestine. As of August 2018, 137 of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states and two non-member states have recognized it. Except Eastern European countries Hungary, Poland, Balgaria, Romania that had recognized Palestinian State in 1988 i.e. before the demise of Soviet Union and end of the Cold War, most European countries did not recognize Palestinian state to appease the US and Israel. Spanish lawmakers had adopted a motion on 18th November 2014, which read: “Parliament urges the government to recognize Palestine as a state. This recognition should be the consequence of a process negotiated between the parties that guarantees peace and security for both, the respect of the rights of the citizens and regional stability.”
The fact however remains that despite various UN resolutions and accords, there seemed to be no end in sight to the atrocities perpetrated on the Palestinians. Unfortunately, it is a dispute between one of world’s strongest military powers i.e. Israel and armless stone throwing civilians of Palestine who had been imprisoned in Gaza through Israel’s blockade. It has to be mentioned that life in Palestine under normal conditions is unbearable, as scarcity of food, medicine and other necessities of life pose serious challenges to the people of Palestine. International community should put their act together, and must persuade Israel to implement UN resolutions to end violence in the Middle East. Be it Iraq, Libya or Syria, the situation emerged because of the US, which wanted to destroy any powerful or stable country that could pose a palpable or perceptive threat to Israel.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.