The reelection of Barack Obama as the President of the United States might have been celebrated and welcomed by many people and leaders around the world, but it seems that his second four year term will have challenges around the issue of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Riyad Maliki, Foreign Minister of Palestine who was on a short visit to Addis Ababa said that although some people have said the reelection of Obama might really bring a new solution to the peace process, many more people are saying his second term will focus on domestic matters.
He said the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) move at the General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations (UN) with the expected tabling of an observer membership status vote on November 29 is intended to break the deadlock and to create new conditions that might promote and prompt a move forward in the direction of a dormant peace process.
He said the international quartet on Middle East Peace hasn’t had a meeting for a while, telling them not to have high expectations of what can be done in the foreseeable future.
Riyad said the Palestinian Authority has been threatened with sanctions by Israel, and as to his opinion the recent Israeli attack on Gaza was to prevent them from going to the General Assembly to ask for an observer state status.
Israel and Hamas the Islamist military and political force that controls the coastal strip of Gaza had an eight day war after the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the military wing of Hamas, leaving about 160 Palestinians and five Israelis dead before a ceasefire was agreed upon on November 21st.
“The international community should do more to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza under Israeli siege” said Riyad adding that Israel can’t dictate its own terms on the Palestinians and Arabs.
Riyad further said that he came to give his condolences on the death of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who he said was a strong leader for Ethiopia, the continent and the world, as well as to inform the new Ethiopian leaders about their bid to go to the General Assembly as well as visit the African Union and report current developments.
The Foreign Minister also said that there is a standing invitation to PM Hailemariam Desalegn to come and visit Palestine to see the situation and develop a bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Riyad hoped what’s happening in Gaza will prompt and create new reasons for Hamas to look forward to implement what was agreed upon between Fatah and Hamas in Doha, Qatar, in order to prepare for elections for both presidential and parliamentary in the Palestinian territories.
“The peace process isn’t a process, it is a movement forward; we didn’t see any movement in any direction in the last four years, since the current Israeli government took office.We’re also worried about the way the international community has reacted to the absence of progress in the peace process, and the lack of pressure being put on the Israelis to come to the negotiating process” Riyad told Capital.
“After 20 years of engaging in this kind of vicious circle of what’s called Peace Process, it is very important to draw conclusions and lessons, to redefine that process in a way that might really bring with it certain positive movements” elaborated Riyad.
He also said it’s very important to define the terms of reference, a time table, the end game and what the objectives of such negotiations are. To be headed in the right direction, there must be a consensus on these matters, otherwise as Palestinians we aren’t interested in sitting for a series of negotiations for another twenty years while the Israelis are creating more facts, building more settlements and trying to prevent the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state.
However Ambassador Avi Granot, Deputy Director General Head of the Africa Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel disagreed on Riyad’s assertion.
“The reality is very clear; Israel has been bombarded by thousands of missiles on an ongoing basis from Gaza and there is a complete rift between Gaza and the West Bank, with Palestinian Foreign Minister not representing Gaza, which opposes the UN bid” remarked Avi.
“We have left Gaza, we don’t control Gaza, we don’t want to get back to Gaza” Avi said adding that if anybody is attacking Addis Ababa on a regular basis, attacking the civilian population, the government has the responsibility to ensure that this attack ends and as such Israel’s action in Gaza aims to achieve only one thing, to stop the barrage of missiles.
Avi had a simple rebuttal to the position of the Palestinians saying if they want to achieve a peaceful agreement with Israel, then they should come to talk.
“If you go to the pharmacy to buy bread, chances are you will not find bread, even if you argue with the pharmacist. The peace between Israelis and the Palestinians can’t be achieved at the AU or UN, but by direct discussions and negotiations” further added Avi.