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Gaza conflict shows value of China-proposed initiatives

By Kostas Gouliamos | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-19 09:06
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A displaced Palestinian woman, who fled her house due to Israeli strikes, looks out of her tent at the border with Egypt, amid fears of an Israeli ground assault in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb 18, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Israel has a long history of isolating the Gaza Strip, a political action that constitutes a plain violation of international humanitarian law.

More than 27,000 Palestinians had been killed and over 66,600 others had been injured in Israel's onslaught on the Palestinian enclave as of Feb 5. About 85 percent of the people in Gaza have been displaced, while all the population in Gaza is food-insecure, according to the United Nations. Hundreds of thousands of residents are living without shelter.

"A child is killed on average every 10 minutes in the Gaza Strip," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the United Nations Security Council in November.

South African lawyers, in an 84-page submission to the International Court of Justice, presented evidence of the daily killing of civilians, accusing Israel of committing the "crime of genocide "against the Palestinians. South Africa accused Israel of failing to prevent "genocide", as well as failing to prosecute Israeli officials who encouraged what South Africa alleged were acts of genocide.

Although it stopped short of calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, the court ruled that "Israel must, in accordance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of acts under Article 2 of the Genocide Convention".

Overall, what was announced on Jan 26 is not the final point from the International Court of Justice on whether or not Israel's actions in Gaza amounted to "genocide "against the Palestinians. The final decision is not expected for at least a year. However, based on what was announced, the court accepts that there is a reasonable risk to the Palestinians.

Although the decision could, for instance, pave the way for sanctions against Israel and discourage foreign countries from selling weapons systems to Israel, the international court could certainly have been harsher toward Israel by ordering a halt to Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repudiated the court's decision as "outrageous". In any case, the decision demonstrates that Israel is not above the law.

Based on the everlasting occupation of Palestine, Israel and its Western allies are intensifying their bargaining for what comes next in Gaza and all the Palestinian territories. In stark contrast to the Palestinian people's right to a free homeland, Israel and its Western allies are promoting a protectorate status in which Israel will be "free" to intervene whenever and however it wants. In particular, they appear increasingly to speak in general terms of a "two-state solution", without any reference to the relevant UN resolutions to end the Israeli occupation and recognition of a truly independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with the return of all refugees.

It is worth mentioning that in the extensive reports of Western news agencies and networks on the subject, there is no mention of the plan to implement the dozens of UN resolutions on the Palestinian issue, nor of course those that refer to the 1967 borders, to a state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to the need for the return of Palestinian refugees.

The China-proposed Global Security Initiative is needed more than ever, since the global outlook for 2024 is relatively bleak. The uncertainties due to regional conflicts and the possibility of the war in the Middle East expanding are generating a growing divergence between the Global North and the Global South.

Additionally, the continuation of the conflict in Ukraine is fostering an international environment of instability.

Within this context, the China-proposed interrelated initiatives-the Global Security Initiative, the Global Development Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative — have gained a special political weight as they offer guidelines for maintaining world peace and stability, and simultaneously building a global community of shared future.

The author is a former rector of European University Cyprus, an ordinary member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and director of the Chinese Studies Center established in Cyprus by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and European University Cyprus.

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