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Security meeting shows Western leaders no honest peace-brokers

By Chen Weihua | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-23 07:13
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The Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine conflicts topped the agenda at the 60th Munich Security Conference from Feb 16 to 18, but it is mission impossible for such a gathering to help end the conflicts. The reason is quite simple. The gathering is not representative, let alone being inclusive.

Germany's Finance Minister Christian Lindner, Argentine's Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship Diana Mondino and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attend the annual Munich Security Conference, in Munich, Germany February 16, 2024. [REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay]

Russian and Iranian officials were not even invited to the conference despite the MSC's proclaimed Munich Rule: Engage and interact with each other: Don't lecture or ignore one another.

On the other hand, Ukraine was represented by President Volodymyr Zelensky, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and other government ministers, parliamentarians and representatives of other institutions. The MSC is still a talk shop for the United States and its European and NATO allies, which all have taken sides with Ukraine and Israel.

Such one-sided conversation is not conducive to finding a way to end the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine conflicts simply because the other side has been ignored. The bigger problem is that none of the panelists was discussing a solution through diplomacy and dialogue, which is really the only way to restore lasting peace between the conflicting parties.

Every senior official from the US, NATO and the European Union focused on how to continue to provide military aid to Ukraine so it can "defeat" Russia. They blocked the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in the spring of 2022 and have been pouring cold water on calls for a cease-fire and the peace plans proposed by China, Brazil, South Africa and many other countries to help end the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

They have done so despite knowing full well that the issue cannot be resolved on the battlefield. Continued fighting only means more destruction and bloodshed for both Ukrainians and Russians.

The same is true for the Israel-Palestine conflict. While the Hamas killed about 1,200 Israelis and foreigners in the Oct 7 attacks, the Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip hit 29,195 according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry on Tuesday, and a majority of them have been women and children, not Hamas fighters.

While many Western leaders at the MSC mentioned the number 1,200, none of them even uttered the alarmingly high number of Palestinian deaths. Many of them said they were horrified by the Oct 7 attack, but none was "horrified" by what has been happening in Gaza since then. In fact, the Western leaders, including US Vice-President Kamala Harris speaking on the opening day, did not even dare to mention who killed the thousands of Palestinians.

US Senator Chris Coons wore the number 133 during his panel speech, saying it is the number of days Israeli hostages have been held by Hamas. But will he ever wear the number of Palestinian children killed by the Israeli forces using many of the weapons supplied by the US? The number is more than 12,000 and counting.

Everybody knows who is responsible for the atrocities in Gaza given that on Tuesday the US vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Palestine conflict on humanitarian grounds. Thirteen of the 15 UN Security Council members voted in favor while the United Kingdom abstained. This was the third time that the US has vetoed a call for a cease-fire.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is probably among the few Western leaders who said at the MSC that "every day 100 kids die in Gaza". He told former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni sitting next to him that "we financed UNRWA and we will continue financing UNRWA", referring to the UN Relief and Works Agency that supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees.

Ending the conflicts and restoring lasting peace between Russia and Ukraine, and Israel and Palestine, call for honest peace-brokers, but most Western leaders proved themselves again at the MSC to be totally incapable of playing such a role.


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