Israel against the international community

Dina Ezzat , Friday 5 Apr 2024

Israel’s killing of international aid workers in Gaza this week is part of a confrontation between Tel Aviv and the international community.

Israel against the international community


The Israeli press expressed dismay this week over Spain’s planned recognition of an independent Palestinian state sooner rather than later.

The Israeli press said that the plans were shared by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as he embarked on a Middle East tour that will start in Jordan, where he is scheduled to visit a Palestinian refugee camp managed by the UN Palestine refugees agency UNRWA. Other stops include Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Spain is one of four EU countries that have expressed a wish to go ahead with recognising an independent Palestinian state as an endorsement of the two-state solution. The other three are Ireland, Slovenia, and Malta. None has indicated a date when this plan will materialise.

In a statement issued by the leaders of the four countries late last month, they said that “we agreed that the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region is through the implementation of a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian states living side-by-side in peace and security.”

“Israel is lobbying hard against these plans, but in fact these are not the only four countries within the [European] Union that are moving in this direction,” said a Cairo-based European source.

He added that Israeli diplomatic lobbying against the recognition of a Palestinian state would likely be defeated by the devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza after close to 180 days of war.   

The source said that there are at least another five EU countries that are contemplating the idea, “with considerable support from public opinion that is growing very sympathetic to the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

“Public opinion [in Europe] is moving fast against the Israeli war in Gaza,” he stated.

“It is not just in Brussels [the headquarters of the EU], but also in the capitals, including some capitals with very close relations with Israel,” the source said.

He was speaking a few days before Israel’s killing of seven foreign nationals working for an NGO in Gaza on Monday, including citizens of Australia, Britain, and Poland. The NGO workers included Palestinians and dual citizens of the US and Canada.

The killings, during an Israeli air strike in Gaza, came days after a senior UN official criticised Israel for the devastating impacts of its strikes on Gaza during the close to six-month war.

“Following nearly six months of the unrelenting Israeli assault on occupied Gaza, it is my solemn duty to report on the worst of what humanity is capable of and to present my findings,” Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, told the UN Human Rights Council late last month.

Albanese was addressing the Geneva-based body while presenting her report titled “Anatomy of Genocide”.

She said that there “are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the crime of genocide… has been met” in Gaza.

“Israel has committed three acts of genocide with the requisite intent: causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group,” she said.

The statements came after other statements of concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the heads of the UN agencies UNICEF, WHO, and UNRWA.

According to a UN source who spoke on condition of anonymity, what these officials say in public is part of the much more vocal positions they share in UN meetings.

“It is clear that Israel wants to eliminate the Palestinians in Gaza and that there is not much to be done about it,” the source said. He added that the current Israeli government wants more than the depopulation of Gaza. Israel also wants to “be done with the Palestinian cause”.

“Israel is not just fighting Hamas in Gaza. Israel is fighting a military war and a political war to put all Palestinian rights behind it. But in the course of this war, the world is becoming increasingly aware that it has to move to reach out to the Palestinians,” the source said.

Last month, Sweden and Canada said that they would resume funding of UNRWA after having joined several other Western countries, including the US, in suspending contributions to the agency over claims of alleged involvement of local staff in supporting Hamas.

“I think other countries will be doing the same,” the source commented.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 4 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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