A few weeks ago, I remarked how it is a brave new world, with more Arab states aligning with Israel against Iran.
But that’s not the end of it. The winds are changing in Europe as well. At least in parts of it.
For a start, Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Martin Stropnický issued a public statement on his ministry’s website blaming Hamas alone for the deaths of Palestinians during Gaza border protests in recent weeks.
In a statement published on Thursday, Stropnický said Hamas is “the only true ruler of the Gaza Strip” and therefore “is fully responsible for the violent incidents that occurred on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip over the past weeks.”
“Hamas is labeled as a terrorist organization by the European Union and does not recognize the State of Israel,” Stropnický added. “Its attempts to cross the border into Israel’s territory can be viewed as terrorism. No country would tolerate such acts of provocation.”
Stropnický added that he sees no connection between the violent riots on the border and the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “The conflict in the Middle East has existed for many years and Hamas was using this event,” he said.
“Hamas doesn’t care about the citizens of the Strip or improving their living conditions,” he concluded. “Its main focus is getting as much attention as possible from the international community and influencing its opinion.”
United Nations aid work for Palestinian refugees is a stumbling block to peace in the Middle East, hindering the integration of Palestinians who have lived in Jordan and Lebanon for years, according to Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis.
So long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they can dream of returning home, he said in an interviewexternal link published in several Swiss newspapers on Thursday.
Five million Palestinian refugees currently live in such camps, with aid and protection provided by the UNRWAexternal link, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
“It is unrealistic that all of them can fulfil this dream. Yet the UNRWA keeps this dream alive,” Cassis said. “For a long time the UNRWA was the solution to this problem, but today it has become part of the problem. It supplies the ammunition to continue the conflict. By supporting the UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It’s a perverse logic.”
He called for the integration of long-term refugees in their countries of residence. Instead of UNRWA schools and hospitals, he said Switzerland could support Jordanian facilities to promote the integration of Palestinian refugees.
He is of course correct – UNRWA merely serves to perpetuate the conflict and absolve the Arab and Muslim countries of their responsibility towards their palestinian brethren.
But don’t take my word for it – you know he hit the nail on the head when it sends Chief palestinian propagandist Saeb Erekat into conniptions.
A senior Palestinian official on Wednesday called on the Swiss government to issue a formal apology for remarks made by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in which he criticized the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
“Switzerland has taken a non-neutral stance and the statement of its foreign minister serves the [Israeli] occupation narrative and the goals of Israel and the US administration to abort the rights of [Palestinian] refugees,” Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said in a letter sent to the Swiss government.
Cassis’s statements had provoked outrage among the Palestinian people and leadership, Erekat said, going on to describe the remarks as “insulting”.
Erekat also reiterated Palestine’s longstanding rejection of the notion of integrating Palestinian refugees into their current host countries.