The quest for sustainable ceasefire over lingering Israeli-Palestinian wars at the Gaza Strip border has drawn growing concerns on how to drive the peace processes.
The concerns expressed by the diplomatic community, conflict resolution experts, and UN officials, underscored the importance of dialogue in the ongoing ceasefire brokered by Egypt on May 20, between Israel and the Palestinian groups, the Hamas.
The violence lasted from May 10 to May 21.
Those who spoke described the violence as the most intense hostilities ever witnessed and worst since the 2014 Gaza War.
Mr Yotam Kreiman, Charge d’Affairs of Embassy of Israel in Nigeria, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the conflict is not just Israel versus Palestine, but a misconception that had cost many lives.
Yotam said: “This is everyone in the region on one side; Israel, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, women, men, children and on the other side Hamas and Islamic Jihadists that advocate and promote death to civilians.
“Secondly, they are firing directly at civilian population in Israel with one goal in mind: kill as many men, women and children as possible. This is what terrorists do.
“These difficult times back home, when terrorists strike hard, killing innocent people, and dragging the military to an unwanted struggle to protect lives of innocent people, remind me of challenges both Israel and Nigeria deal with.
“Boko Haram, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah with same agenda of terror and killing innocent people, under different names. Despite this, Israel will remain a beacon of peace, love, and care for others, as it has always been.”
A conflict resolution expert, Dr Bakut Bakut, Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), who spoke on the crisis, stressed the need for dialogue as tool to resolve the prevailing conflict amicably.
Bakut who was guest at the NAN forum, said although the warring factions made efforts to tackle their differences using forceful means, they could achieve a lot through dialogue.
“You have to bring in civil society organisations, faith-based institutions, religious leaders, community leaders or even security agencies. So when you have both parties agreeing to pursue dialogue in resolving problems, it becomes easy.
“Look for opportunity to have a conversation that will reduce tension or bring about a solution. We must do that because if we do not do that, conflict will escalate and become a bigger problem,” Bakut said.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is traceable to inter-communal violence in “mandatory Palestine, Israelis and Arabs’’ from 1920 that later escalated into full-scale hostilities in the 1947-1948 civil wars, following the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948
Issues in the conflict hinged on security, borders, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinians freedom of movement and Palestinian right of return.
A court decision under higher court review to remove Palestinian families from an East Jerusalem neighbourhood was among the causes of the latest conflict.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, who briefed the Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian wars, called on the international community to look for sustainable, long-term political solution to the conflict.
Wennesland said: “These recent events have made clear once again the costs of perpetual conflict and lost hope; the challenges in Gaza like this conflict as a whole require political solutions.
“As we look ahead, our approach cannot be business-as-usual and we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past, this is not the first time we are witnessing the end of a war in Gaza, each time, those who lose the most are the civilians.
“This reality and avoiding its repetition should be the point of departure for all of us as we look toward sustainable, long-term solutions to this conflict through dialogue.”
He stressed that dialogue would create viable two-state solutions on basis of the UN resolutions, international law, and mutual agreements, with Jerusalem as capital of both states and definitely end the senseless and costly cycles of violence.
On his part, Ahmad Murra, Director of Media Department of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the Gaza Strip, said that Hamas welcomes the United Nations Human Rights Council’s call to resolve the conflict through dialogue.
The call seeks to inquire into the recent Israeli army and the Palestinian conflict, as well as the “deep causes” of tensions between the two sides.
“Forming the committee reflects the international community’s insistence to carry on with the path of accountability, implement the law and protect the Palestinians’ human rights.
“It is important to reach reality, ensure justice for the Palestinians and unveil the Israeli terrorism,” referring to the recent 11-day violence in the Gaza Strip that ended on May 21.
Experts are worried that the current ceasefire between the Israeli military and Hamas could resume if either of the warring parties breaks the truce.
They also opined that even if the ceasefire continued, the pending court judgement over the Israel-Palestine issue is still pending. The awaited court judgment is whether or not to expel six Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem.
Experts are of the opinion that there is need to extend the ceasefire to ensure lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and to promote conversation that would not just reduce tension but also resolve the age-long conflict. (NANFeatures)