UN of­fi­cial says threat of Gaza war still high

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By TOVAH LAZAROFF

The risk of an­other Gaza war is still im­mi­nent, United Na­tions Spe­cial Co­or­di­na­tor for the Mid­dle East Peace Process Nick­o­lay Mlade­nov told Army ra­dio on Thurs­day morn­ing, as Is­rael’s north­ern bor­der with Le­banon has heated up.

He spoke just two days after Is­rael launched a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion on its side of the Le­banese bor­der to de­stroy at­tack tun­nels the ter­ror group Hizbol­lah had built ex­tend­ing into Is­raeli ter­ri­tory.

“Which­ever way you look at Gaza, whether from a po­lit­i­cal or a se­cu­rity or a hu­man­i­tar­ian per­spec­tive, the risk of an es­ca­la­tion is very real,” Mlade­nov said.

This is the case, he said, even though, “from a strate­gic per­spec­tive, no one has an in­ter­est in an­other war in Gaza.” This is true for Is­rael, the Pales­tini­ans, Egypt, the Pales­tinian peo­ple and the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship in­clud­ing Ha­mas, he said.

Mlade­nov along with Egypt has worked in­ten­sity over the last months with Ha­mas, Is­rael and the Pales­tinian Author­ity to re­store calm to the Gaza bor­der, as vi­o­lence there threat­ens to spark a new war.

When asked by Army Ra­dio if Is­rael and Ha­mas, which rules the Gaza en­clave, had been close to war in the last months, he said, “to many times and to close for any­one’s comfort.”

Mlad­neov added that, “to­day I was look­ing at some of the num­bers. There were cer­tain days in July and in Au­gust and most re­cently in the last es­ca­la­tion [ear­lier this month] where we saw more rock­ets out of Gaza than in the whole of last year.”

Part of the is­sue, Mlade­nov ex­plained, was a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion. Mlade­nov made ref­er­ence to a mech­a­nism set up in the fall to al­low Qatari-funded fuel into Gaza for its power plant to al­le­vi­ate the elec­tric­ity cri­sis.

He at­trib­uted the drop in vi­o­lence along the bor­der to that fuel. Ear­lier this month, Qatar gave $15 mil­lion in cash to Gaza to pay for civil ser­vant salaries.

On Tues­day, Ron Dermer, Is­rael’s am­bas­sador to the US tweeted, “We have seen par­tic­u­larly over the last month that as elec­tric­ity sup­plies in­creased through this UN mech­a­nism that was set up after the sum­mer, we saw prac­ti­cally – [but] not im­me­di­ately – over a few weeks, a re­duc­tion in the se­cu­rity in­ci­dents in Gaza.”

The next day, the Qatar Em­bassy in Bel­gium tweeted, “#Qatar is com­mit­ted to find­ing a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion in #Gaza and is work­ing hand-in-hand with #Is­rael and the @UN to pro­tect the hu­man rights and dig­nity of Pales­tini­ans.”

On Army Ra­dio Thurs­day, Mlade­nov spoke of what he de­scribed as a three­p­hase ap­proach to a cease fire un­der­stand­ing in Gaza that in­cluded the de-es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions, a mech­a­nism for im­proved hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of Ha­mas and Fatah.

“No dis­cus­sions and no ne­go­ti­a­tions can hap­pen if ev­ery­one func­tions un­der the pres­sure of ‘will we go to war next Fri­day?’” Mlade­nov said.

“Lead­ers need the space to carve out agree­ments and com­pro­mises,” he added.

Not ev­ery­thing can be done at the same time, Mlade­nov said, ex­plain­ing that ne­go­ti­at­ing the re­turn of the re­mains of two Is­raelis sol­diers from Gaza and the re­lease of two ci­ti­zens held cap­tive there, can only hap­pen at a later stage in the process.

He urged their fam­i­lies to be pa­tient, even though he said he un­der­stood that it was not easy to do so.

Mlade­nov, who is a strong ad­vo­cate of a two-state res­o­lu­tion to the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, said that he still be­lieves that peace is pos­si­ble be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans.

“I can see how Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans can live to­gether in peace and se­cu­rity with the rest of the re­gion,” Mlade­nov ex­plained.

“What I would say to ev­ery­one is do not give up. You need to have the lead­er­ship, the will and the sup­port from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to reach such an agree­ment, he said.

Mlade­nov warned against “forces out there who do not want to see Pales­tini­ans and Is­raelis liv­ing side by side.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.