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On the Israeli-Gaza Conflict
Manila, Philippines - Akbayan Party strongly and categorically condemns the Israeli armed forces’ (navy and air force) constant bombardment and shelling, numbering above 100, of the Gaza strip, hosting more than 1.7 million people in one of the most densely-populated areas in the world. Despite its claims of engaging in surgical operations against militant and ‘terrorist’ elements within Gaza, Israel’s air raids and naval shelling have contributed to rising casualties among civilians, including journalists and children, caught in the firing line.
Also, Israel’s policy of political assassinations, culminating in the recent murder of Hamas’ military chief Ahmad Jabari, has precipitated a new cycle of violence in the region, threatening international security and the prospects of a just and lasting peace in the Palestinian territories. Equally, we condemn indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other armed elements within Gaza against Israeli civilians.
Instead of saber-rattling and violent confrontation, we urge both sides to de-escalate the situation, immediately cease any form of violence, especially against civilians, honor the earlier Egyptian-brokered truce, and lay down the ground for a substantive and sustained engagement of the peace process, under the auspices of the Middle East quarter. The recent escalation clearly underscores the growing importance of granting the Palestinians a measure of statehood (to exercise their right to self-determination) with a greater sense of urgency.
However, we also expect external actors, especially the U.S. and influential European states such as the U.K. and France, to play a more impartial and pro-active role by exerting more pressure on the Israeli government to withhold the unbridled usage of its overwhelming military edge over Palestinian authorities, and instead focus on the Peace Process.
Unfortunately, what we see today is a highly one-sided position adopted by leading Western leaders, including the newly re-elected President Obama, who have continuously underscored Israel’s right to self defense, placing the blame squarely on Hamas and its allies, without a proper appreciation of realities on the ground. Leading analysts, including Israeli commentators, have characterized recent Israeli attacks as part of a cynical ploy by the Netanyahu administration to shore up domestic support ahead of the upcoming January elections, distract the West from its diplomatic outreach to Iran over the nuclear issue, and, perhaps most importantly, pressure the second Obama administration into a re-alignment with Israeli positions, testing the mettle of U.S.’ broader Middle East policy.
So, more than ever, the Obama administration -- enjoying a strong domestic mandate and a measure of strategic flexibility -- should rein in the belligerence of its Israeli ally in the interest of regional security and begin to honor its expressed commitment to reach out to the Muslim world.
Equally, we also expect regional actors with leverage over Hamas, especially Egypt, Qatar, and Iran, to encourage their Palestinian allies to seek a diplomatic solution. We also believe that this is the best moment for a unified Palestinian effort to pressure the Netanyahu government into negotiations over (1) the immediate cessation of the collective siege against Gaza, (2) end illegal Israeli settlements within occupied territories, and (3) pave the way for a ‘two state solution’, whereby a Palestinian nation could live side-by-side Israel based on 1967 borders, as endorsed by numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as all leading international powers, including the United States.
For its part, the Aquino government must respond to this crisis by adding its voice to the international community’s strong clamor to end the bombing of Gaza. President Aquino, fresh from his recent achievement with the historic GPH-MILF Framework of Agreement, must lead the country in extending the Filipino people’s solidarity and support to those who were ravaged by armed conflict and unpeace.
Lastly, we call on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and all concerned agencies to safely and expeditiously evacuate all Filipinos living at the Gaza strip. We hope that no Filipino citizen would be hurt in this conflict.
Statement on Israeli airstrikes on Gaza-Palestine
Stop Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza-Palestine and the killing of children and civilians!
The Party of the Laboring Masses-PLM condemns Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza which is resulting in the killing of civilians, including children. We consider Israel to be an occupation force and an occupying power and we consider the Palestinian resistance a legitimate struggle for self-determination against the Israeli occupation. Therefore, we also condemn the political assassination by the Israeli occupation forces, of a leader of the Palestinian liberation struggle, Ahmed al-Jabari, commander of Hamas -- the legitimately elected government in Gaza.
Furthermore, we also think the argument that Israel is only retaliating to attacks by Hamas, false and misleading. Israel has one of the best armed and sophisticated military machines in the world and its military might is no match for the Palestinian people: it’s a David and Goliath situation, with Israeli airstrikes resulting in the mass murder of civilians.
Israel’s actions are pushing the region closer to a major regional war with serious international ramifications. We know that Israel has been campaigning for and pressuring its allies, especially the United States, towards a war with Iran. It’s also no co-incidence that the airstrikes on Gaza have been initiated by the Israeli government prior to the national elections in January. These events, among others, demonstrate that it is in the interest of the Israeli regime to be on a permanent war footing. We think that utmost international pressure must be exerted on Israel to stop the bombing of Gaza and desist from this course.
The Philippines has recognized the State of Palestine and has had an official diplomatic office for the Palestinian state based here. This is despite pressure from Christian fundamentalist lobby groups against Palestine.
We call on Philippine President Aquino and his government to be consistent with this position of recognizing Palestinian statehood and to condemn Israel’s murderous airstrikes on the Palestinian people living in the Gaza strip.
The Aquino government must condemn Israel’s actions and support build-up of international pressure to stop Israeli aggression!
Partido Lakas ng Masa-PLM