Keeping the peace train on the right track

Thursday, 2020-02-13 11:38:21
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends an opening briefing of the United Nations Security Council on the Middle East situation in New York City, on February 11, 2020. (Photo: China Daily)
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NDO – Under the theme “The Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question”, the recent open briefing of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) offered an opportunity to discuss new developments after the United States announced its controversial peace plan.

Many countries affirmed their support for the just struggle of the Palestinians, as well as for the promotion of negotiations to achieve a two-state solution and keep the “Middle East peace train” from being derailed.

In addition to the UNSC members, the recent meeting to seek peace for the Middle East brought together representatives from nations, agencies and stakeholders, providing a platform for parties to openly talk about the latest “hot” developments concerning the conflict between Palestine and Israel, after US President Trump unveiled a “Middle East peace plan”, acclaimed by the US as the “deal of the century”. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the tensions in the Middle East and affirmed that a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is crucial for long-term peace in the region. The UN chief reiterated that the UN’s position on the issue was determined by the resolutions which had been adopted by the UNSC and the UN General Assembly. He stressed the UN’s pledge to continue supporting Palestine and Israel in resolving the conflict on the basis of UN resolutions, international law, and bilateral agreements. Accordingly, a long-term and equitable peace can only be realised with the implementation of the “two-state solution”, in which Israel and Palestine coexist peacefully with a recognised border line on the basis of the split lines before the 1967 Middle East war.

In front of UN leaders and members of the UNSC, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech in which he rejected President Trump’s “deal of the century”. The Palestinian leader affirmed that the US plan not only fails to bring peace to the region, but it is also a unilateral step, violating international law and infringing the sovereignty and self-determination of the Palestinians. He called on the UNSC and the “quartet”, including the US, Russia, the European Union (EU) and the UN, to promptly hold an international conference on peace in the Middle East and promote the implementation of the UNSC’s resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. The aspiration to establish an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital was supported by the UNSC members. Four member states of the UNSC, including Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany, together with Poland, which has just concluded its term at the council, even affirmed that the Middle East peace plan unveiled by the US has deviated from the limits that have been agreed by the international community. The joint statement of the five countries reiterated the EU’s stance of maintaining its commitment to a “two-state solution” and supporting the resumption of direct talks between Israel and Palestine to resolve all the issues on the final status, such as the border line, the status of Jerusalem, security and asylum, with the goal of building an equitable and sustainable peace. In fact, these are the “thorniest” issues which have put the peace talks into a deadlock.

The international community’s consistent affirmation toward the Middle East peace process shows many differences concerning the ideas that President Trump recently proposed for this process. The Palestinians have continued their marches to strongly protest the new US plan, blaming it for an increase in the bloody violence in the occupied Palestinian territories. During the UNSC open briefing, many countries also expressed concern about the moves from Israel which sought to annex the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as to continue constructing Jewish settlements, emphasising that such actions will close the door to dialogue and adversely affect the entire region.

The international community shares the view that there is no other way for Middle East peace but to resolve disagreements through dialogue. It is said that the stalemate in the current peace process should not last any longer, and the parties concerned need to refrain from actions that may increase tensions. Only in this way can the wheels of the “Middle East peace train” continue to roll.