ًًWar in Gaza

11 May 2021

The War in Gaza, Time for Unity

 

Kemet Boutros Ghali Foundation for Peace and knowledge (KBG) 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 Amre Moussa, the former Secretary-General of the Arab League, took part in the webinar as speakers. They were joined by Nassif Hitti, former Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Arab League permanent representative at the UNESCO, and Mr. Mamdouh Abbas, KBG Chairman of the board of trustees. 

The webinar was attended by a plethora of experts, journalists, intellectuals, and think-tank experts who later took an active role in the discussions.

 

Reviewing the events that led to the fourth war in Gaza, Mamdouh Abbas said that Israel's attempts to Judaize Jerusalem would 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 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 demonstrated the strong will of the Palestinians and their ability to unify their ranks at challenging 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 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 to move forward. He said all Palestinians took part- one way or another- in the war 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 Egypt has been siding by the Palestinian people for decades. He added that now is the time for us to support its negotiating capabilities by putting an end to the ongoing fighting among the Palestinian factions. 

On the other hand, the Israelis have been through a dilemma. According to Omar, the new Israeli government that has 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 Palestinians' issue had hardly been on its agenda," he said. 

However, he pointed out that the current situation refers to the crisis 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. He added that the tight grip imposed by Hamas in the strip has been de-facto due to a lack of other options. 

 

Nassif Hitti, former Lebanese foreign minister, said that the war in Gaza had left its marks on the rules of engagement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Moreover, according to him, the recent Gaza war has brought to the limelight the Palestinian issue to the world agenda. Therefore, the political settlement of that issue should, as he said, be laid based on establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders as stated by all United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace initiative. 

Hitti believes that the fourth war against Gaza has shown the strong will of the Palestinian. It also highlighted 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's Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, pointed to the need for Palestinians to establish a robust 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 a system that can respond to the world community's positive response to the crisis, they will, unfortunately, lose their way of settling their problems.

 

The veteran diplomat, Amre Moussa, 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 victory echoed in a unified political stand. Moussa said that although the new government in Israel will not be willing to engage with the Palestinians during its first two years, this time could be spent preparing for the elections, reconstructing the strip, and working for the unity of the Palestinian factions.