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Escalating violence will only exacerbate feud: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-05-12 20:13
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Dozens have been killed, hundreds injured in the bloody escalation of tensions between Israel and Palestine since Friday, including both Palestinian and Israeli civilians. And sadly there is no sign the conflicting parties will make any meaningful attempts to de-escalate.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Tuesday statement that his government had "decided that Hamas and Islamic Jihad will pay a heavy price" for their alleged "aggressive acts", and the "big operation … will take time".

On the other side, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad movement, said his group "will continue this battle ... will not retreat and will continue to resist".

Given the convoluted historical, religious and territorial relations behind the latest flare-up, especially the bloody, ruthless nature of it, neither party may find it in their interest to sound or seem soft at this moment. Provocative moves from either side are therefore likely in the days ahead.

In some ways, digging in at such a juncture is a political necessity — for both sides. Netanyahu has built himself an image of toughness on the Palestine issue, and he may want to prove, particularly to domestic critics, that toughness works. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, on their parts, need to act likewise for a similar reason.

Yet as history has proven, and may be proving again, violence is no solution to their deep-rooted, longstanding feud. On the contrary, bloodshed will only tie the apparent dead knot tighter and deadlier, resulting in increasing bloodshed.

Looking back on the history of Israel-Palestine relations, all the days of peace and security for both parties have coincided with periods when both awakened to the importance of and attempted to make peace.

China on its part hopes for an early resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestine according to relevant UN resolutions and on the basis of the two-state solution, and has said that it is willing to play a constructive role in promoting dialogue between the two sides.

Despite the fact that the Israel-Palestine peace process collapsed in 2014, negotiations are the only way to overcome the historical conundrum the two parties find themselves in today.

Tit-for-tat violence might accomplish the immediate goals of defeating, even disabling foes for a while. But that kind of peace will end up proving volatile, as there will be a corresponding sense of grievance.

Decision-makers must come to terms with the simple reality that further escalation of the conflict will in no way serve their claimed purpose of winning lasting peace for their respective people.

Instead of sinking themselves deeper in the mire of historical enmity, they should resort to reason, rather than wrath, practice restraint, and make every effort to de-escalate the situation.

If not, they will only end up prolonging and worsening their peoples’ sufferings. That is the last thing responsible leaders should do.

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