war in gaza
The War in Gaza…Time for Unity
Kemet Boutros Ghali Foundation for Peace and knowledge (KBBG), organized a webinar on the “Prospects of settling the Palestinian Issue”, after the war in Gaza that took place in June this year.
The webinar’s speakers were Nabil Omar, former Palestinian Minister of Communication and Culture and Advisor to both the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas; head of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The two former foreign ministers of Egypt Nabil Fahmy and Amr Mousa who is also the former Secretary- General of the Arab League took part in the webinar as speakers, in addition to Nassef Hatta, former Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Arab League permanent representative at the UNESCO, as well as Mr Mamdouh Abbas, KBBG Chairman of the board of trustees.
The webinar was attended by a big number of experts, journalists, intellectuals and think-tank experts who later took an active role in the discussions.
Reviewing the events which led to the fourth war in Gaza, the Chairman, Mamdouh Abbas, said that Israel's attempts to Judaize Jerusalem will never cease. The arbitrary detention and forced displacement of the Palestinians have been behind the escalation of tension in Palestine. According to him, for Israel to ignore the world community's pleas to end violence against civilians or to respect their human rights, has also been the reason for the call for arms raised by Palestinians in Gaza. The unified stand taken by all Palestinian factions to help their people in Jerusalem and later to defend themselves has clearly demonstrated the strong will of the Palestinians and their ability to unify their ranks at hard times.
Thus, Abbas said it is high time for the Palestinians to unify their ranks and help Egypt become an active mediator to settle this issue. The chairman pointed to the urgent need to hold free elections throughout the Palestinian territories, stressing the fact that new blood should be poured into the veins of the Palestinian Authority. He believes that the Palestinians have to find their own way to establish their state with the help of the world community and the Egyptians as ‘mediators' before it is too late.
Minister Nabil Omar, stressed the urge to unify the Palestinian factions as a step to move forward. He said all Palestinians took part- one way or another- in the war that took place in Gaza this year “Whether they were in the occupied territories, the West Bank, Jerusalem or under the PA, ordinary Palestinians showed resilience and impressed the whole world by their strong stand against Israel,” he added.
According to the former Palestinian Minister, Egypt has a clear cut mandate to handle the Palestinian question. Praising the Egyptian initiative for the Gaza strip reconstruction after the devastating aggression by Israel, he said that this country has been siding by our people for decades and now is the time for us to support its negotiating capabilities by putting an end to the on-going fighting among the Palestinian factions.
On the other hand, the Israelis have been through a dilemma. According to Omar, the new Israeli government which has within its ranks representatives of both the far left and the far right, will create an obstacle for settling the Palestinian issue. Getting rid of former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was the sole target of this government but the issue of the Palestinians had hardly been on its agenda, he said. However, he pointed out that the current situation refers to the fact that the crisis is leading Israel and not vice versa, “Israel has been led by its internal and external problems and the Palestinian issue has thus been leading the situation there.”
The call for elections to be held as demanded by the foundation chairman was reiterated by minister Omar, who said that delaying the elections was a ‘fatal mistake’ and those fearing that Hamas in Gaza would get a landslide victory were mistaken. The tight grip imposed by Hamas in the strip has been de- facto due to lack of other options, he added.
Nassef Hatta, former Lebanese foreign minister, said that the war in Gaza has left its marks on the rules of engagement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Moreover, the recent Gaza war has, according to him, brought to the limelight the Palestinian issue to the world agenda. Therefore, the political settlement of that issue should, as he said, be laid on the basis of establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders as stated by all United Nation’s resolutions and the Arab Peace initiative.
Hattah believes that the fourth war against Gaza has shown the strong will of the Palestinian and their ability to unify their ranks during a crisis unlike their leadership. He called for an initiative that goes beyond meeting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians to guarantee their legal rights to establish their state and live in peace.
Nabil Fahmy, Egypt Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, pointed to the needs for Palestinians to establish their own strong system that defends their interests. According to him, the world community is now more sympathetic than ever with the plight of the Palestinians and more willing to take a step forward. Yet, unless the Palestinians have their own system that can respond to the world community’s positive response to the crisis, they will unfortunately lose their way to settle their problems.
The veteran diplomat Amr Mousa, pointed out that the war in Gaza brought back the Palestinian issue to the attention of the world community. He believes that despite the Israelis' violence and aggression exercised against civilians in Gaza, the Palestinians achieved their own victory echoed in a unified political stand. Mousa said that although the new government in Israel will not be willing to engage with the Palestinians during its first two years, that time however, could be spent in preparing for the elections, reconstructing the strip and above all working for the unity of the Palestinian factions.