The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which spans over seven decades, serves as a potent illustration of the persistent failures of Western nations, particularly the United States, to facilitate an equitable and enduring resolution.
Over the past month, the world has been appalled by unprecedented violence which has prompted critical contemplation of the efficacy of international law, the historical backdrop of colonization, and the ramifications of massive civilian casualties which the Western media would otherwise characterize as genocide.
The United States has consistently displayed a pro-Israel stance, failing to act as an impartial mediator in the so-called "Palestinian-Israeli conflict." This approach disregards the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and bears resemblance to the historical treatment of Native Americans by the first European settlers
Reactions from Western countries to the ongoing conflict have exhibited divergence, reflecting the varying stances of individual governments. Traditionally, countries with close ties to Israel, such as the United States, have vehemently asserted Israel's right to self-defense, emphasizing its role as a pivotal ally in the Middle East. The United States, in particular, reinforced its support for Israel by deploying two aircraft carriers to the region apart from sending arms and intelligence. Simultaneously, the European Union expressed solidarity with Israel's right to self-defense.
The United States has consistently displayed a pro-Israel stance, failing to act as an impartial mediator in the so-called "Palestinian-Israeli conflict." This approach disregards the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and bears resemblance to the historical treatment of Native Americans by the first European settlers.
Another historical parallel is between the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the contemporary failure of America's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is striking. The Balfour Declaration, issued by the British government during World War I, starkly exemplifies the persistent Western failure in addressing the Palestinian issue, with its glaring deficiency lying in the neglect of indigenous voices.
Similarly, America's approach to the conflict, rooted in the belief that hard power can quell legitimate grievances, has conveyed counterproductive messages, exacerbating violence against Palestinians. This pattern continues as Washington supports Israel's settlement project, sustaining the perception of enduring colonialism.
By consistently condemning Palestinian armed resistance while failing to condemn Israeli settlement expansion and nonviolent Palestinian dissent repression, the United States has delegitimized all forms of resistance to occupation. Recent events vividly expose the adverse outcomes of this approach. The Biden administration's failed attempt to normalize relations between Israel and Libya, as well as the improbable prospects for Saudi Arabia's inclusion in the Abraham Accords, reveal the fragility of the administration's Middle East policy. This policy aimed to strengthen ties with Israel and regional dictatorships as a recipe for stability.
Widespread protests across the Middle East, from Amman to Beirut, have arisen, compelling Arab leaders to denounce Israel and affirm support for the Palestinian cause. These developments have pressured Arab governments to issue an active collective support for the Palestinians and refrain from directly criticizing Hamas, as illustrated by Saudi Arabia-hosted Joint Arab Islamic Extraordinary Summit on Nov 11.
Increasingly, it is becoming challenging to imagine the Global South taking the US administration's rhetoric on human rights seriously. The glaring hypocrisy of the US and its European allies, who blindly support Israel while it restricts aid, water, and food to besieged Gaza residents and attacks on Gaza hospitals and schools, has not gone unnoticed. These nations were vocal in their condemnation of the Syrian regime's actions in Homs, Ghouta, Aleppo, and other locations, yet they exhibited a noticeable reluctance to criticize their own ally when it employed similar tactics. The significant failures in Washington's Middle East foreign policy are increasingly difficult to deny.
A significant Western failure, primarily led by the United States, is evident in international law. The US has consistently used its veto power to block United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions related to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since 1945, 36 UNSC draft resolutions addressing this conflict have been vetoed, with the US responsible for 34 vetoes, while Russia and China vetoed two. These resolutions aimed to establish a framework for peace, including calls for Israel to adhere to international laws, support for Palestinian self-determination, and condemnation of Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories.
The US has vetoed 46 resolutions related to Israel, covering issues like the invasion of southern Lebanon and the annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights. Notably, in 2019, the US officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a departure from established US policy. The only instance where the US abstained from vetoing a draft resolution was in 1972, calling for an immediate cessation of military operations and restraint for international peace and security.
A fundamental shift in the White House's approach to the Middle East would be a prudent one, accompanied by a rigorous examination of the circumstances that have led to the current impasse.
However, two principal factors cast doubt on the likelihood of such a shift. First, the current administration continues to base its calculations on short-term interests, particularly those related to upcoming elections. It clings to the belief that victory at the polls is contingent upon demonstrating unwavering support for Israel, a perspective that is increasingly flawed.
Second, the deeply ingrained personal biases of the US administration, particularly within the State Department, hinder a clear-eyed, independent, and America-centric approach to the conflict. Instead, the administration's disposition towards Israel appears to be heavily influenced by personal and familial sentiments of affinity. Undoubtedly, the United States' longstanding allegiance to Israel remains unwavering, yet.
Meanwhile, as the world cannot tolerate the continued humanitarian disaster in Gaza to endure, it is no longer relevant for the US-led Western countries to continue relegating Palestinian issue to obscurity. Instead, their only equitable, legitimate and humanitarian path is to join the rest of the world in pragmatic steps to implement the two-state solution in earnest, and restore peace for both states of Israel and Palestine that ever lasts.
The author, a Middle East analyst, is a research fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad in Pakistan.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.