China Daily

Palestinian space being single-mindedly squeezed

With Israel’s war in Gaza creating an ever-worsening humanitarian disaster and drawing ire and opposition from the world, the Jewish state’s latest land appropriation in the occupied West Bank will only stoke Palestinian animosity and trigger condemnation worldwide.

Peace Now, an Israel-based settlement watchdog, reportedly said [last week] that the Israeli authorities have approved the appropriation of 12.7 square kilometers of land in the occupied West Bank, marking the largest single appropriation in about three decades. Israeli settlements in the West Bank have for years been a major obstacle for resolving the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Palestinians view the settlements as preventing any possibility of a cohesive state and most members of the international community consider the settlements the main barrier to any lasting peace agreement.

Late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the fighting against Hamas was “very close” to an end. But tension on the Israel-Lebanon border has subsequently flared higher, marking a dramatic turn in Israel’s strategy and drawing growing worries that the conflict will spread beyond Gaza.

With the Israel-Hamas war drawing near to its 10th month, the Israeli authorities may feel compelled to adjust their strategy amid the mounting pressure from home and abroad. To date, the war has deprived the lives of more than 37,800 Palestinians in the Gaza strip, according to Hamas sources.

Though being reluctant to scale down the military offensive in Gaza, Netanyahu may have already set his eyes on the post-Gaza conflict era, and the latest land theft in West Bank could be part of Israel’s attempts to squeeze the space for the Palestinians. But such an approach will only result in a strong backlash.

Over 2 million people are living in what amounts to an open-air prison, without adequate access to water, electricity, food, medication, and fuel. This man-made humanitarian disaster and serious breach of international law must end, and Israel must heed the international community’s call to ensure the rapid and safe entry of humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

With the war in Gaza showing multiple signs of spilling over and involving more players in the region, Tel Aviv should exercise more restraint and stop making any irresponsible moves that may exacerbate confrontation and enmity with the Palestinian side. It should fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law and fully implement United Nations Security Council resolutions on expanding humanitarian access and implementing an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Influential players in the region, the United States in particular, should also use their arts of persuasion to convince Tel Aviv to implement the relevant UNSC resolutions so that a cease-fire can be realized.

Editorial, China Daily

Categories China Daily Opinion