Where is Palestine?
In mid-2015, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nicolai Mladenov issued a report through the Security Council calling on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to make every effort to build on existing agreements, taking into consideration UN Security Council resolutions, the roadmap and the Arab peace initiative to reach a mutual agreement. The report stated that the coming period will be crucial for the future of the peace process, with growing concerns about the absence of negotiations to reach a two-state solution.
The report pointed out that the current situation will inevitably lead to the continuous erosion of the living conditions of Palestinians and Israelis alike and will undermine security and stability for all. The report called on the government of Israel to take practical steps to reaffirm its commitment to the two-state solution, including the freezing of settlement activity.
Two years have passed and the situation is still burning, and even got worse recently. It seems there’s no hope of a near-miraculous breakthrough. Because neither the Israeli government is prepared to cooperate nor the Palestinians are ready to accept anything less, because they have been suffering for many years over making any move in favor of their case, which today seems like an old issue in a global file filled with hundreds of hot issues in a semi-ruptured Arab world.
Therefore, Palestine today is neither victorious nor vanquished. The few Palestinians who still live there on hope and the Arab dream are not even able to find their daily bread, let alone peace. Amidst the intransigence of Israeli forces and the provocations and harassment that continue over observing religious rites, Israelis themselves are not being able to live in safety, stability and peace. So there are no winners or losers everyone has been defeated.
Earlier this month, the Israeli authorities closed AlAqsa Mosque and surrounding areas for the first time in years after a shooting incident. On Friday, the Israeli occupation forces imposed restrictions on the entry of worshipers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers, and opened only three doors for worshipers to enter under certain conditions related to age and gender.
The Israeli government blames the attacks on Israelis on “incitement” among Palestinians from Islamist movements. In contrast, the Palestinian Authority says the reason is the state of frustration caused by decades of Zionist occupation. I believe that no country or international power can now offer a magical solution that can be fully satisfactory to the two parties in light of a historical, religious and humanitarian conflict where each party sees that it is completely right and the other has to leave its homeland.
This cannot be achieved on the ground, especially with the strategy of the United States, which does not seem to see the Palestinian and Israeli conflict from a humanitarian or historical perspective, but as an old issue related to its strategic and international interests, and therefore it is not important to them how many Palestinians are dying or tortured. They see the Israelis as a force capable of protecting themselves with all the weapons they have obtained. It is a complex issue indeed and I do not think that the launch of new negotiations will bring any change now.
So what is the solution? I believe that the Europeans and the EU have the elements of any possible initiative that can be taken seriously, including commitment, clarity and transparency in the position on the Palestinian issue. For example, these countries through the Security Council can call for the implementation of resolution 2334 issued on Dec 23, 2016 and emphasize the need to commit Israel to remove all obstacles to worshipers to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City of Jerusalem.
Al-Aqsa Mosque has great importance in the hearts of Muslims and its closure was a serious mistake that cannot be tolerated. Therefore, the Security Council must condemn Israeli practices in violation of international resolutions and law. This decision will not achieve the dreams of the Palestinians in their homeland, but it is an important message to Israel that Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line and must not be breached.