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No quick fix for decades-old Israeli-Palestinian enmity: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-05-07 00:16

Smoke rise after Israeli airstrike Gaza city, the Gaza Strip, Palestine on May 5, 2019. [Photo/IC]

Concern over the recent escalation of tensions between Palestinians and Israelis have been temporarily relieved after Palestinian leaders in Gaza agreed a cease-fire with Israel early on Monday. Right now, nothing is more important than upholding the cease-fire as the atmosphere between the two rivals has not been so combustible since 2014.

Since Friday, militant groups in Gaza have fired more than 600 rockets and other projectiles at southern Israeli cities and villages, killing four Israeli civilians, with Israel retaliating with air and artillery strikes, killing 27 people, including 14 civilians, in Gaza.

The latest border clashes, the most deadly since 2014, have occurred against the backdrop of the changing Middle East policy of the United States, which has seen the US drop any pretense of impartiality and make clear its support of Israel.

It was Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that fueled the massive protests from Palestinians and the Arab world and deepened the enmity between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The Trump administration has closely aligned itself with Israel's right wing, and on Sunday night, US President Donald Trump reinforced this when he tweeted his "100%" support for Israel's actions, blaming the violence on "terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad".

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza from Western-backed Palestinian forces in 2007, but its leader Ismail Haniyeh said Hamas is "not interested in a new war" and is ready to "return to the state of calm" if Israel stops its attacks "and immediately starts implementing understandings about a dignified life". In the past, Hamas has halted attacks in return for the easing of an Egyptian and Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza.

US policy has done a disservice to the international community's efforts to advance the Middle East peace process and the remarks by the president's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner indicating that an upcoming US peace plan does not include a two-state solution with the Palestinians shows the US is hoping to undermine the international consensus built on that premise. Given its complex and chronic nature, there is no quick remedy to the decades-old enmity between Israelis and Palestinians. But both sides need to exercise the utmost restraint so as to avoid sparking another vicious circle of violence.

Meanwhile, the latest bloodshed should convince the international community of the urgency of finding a way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US is in no position to act as mediator, but it should avoid doing anything to make the situation worse. And notwithstanding the US stance, the consensus on a two-state solution needs to be shored up and greater efforts need to be made to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue through dialogue and negotiations.

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