Recently, the U.S. and European Union have been taking steps towards just resolution of the Jewish-Arab conflict. President Obama and Secretary Kerry are intensely engaging both parties. European Union adopts concrete decisions aiming to exert diplomatic pressure on Tel-Aviv. This diplomatic activity is said to be yielding some results while Western position on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict remains to be thought-provoking.
“Coercion to peace” method on Tel-Aviv
The U.S. and European Union have stepped up their effort in resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. This aspect appears overtly pronounced in the Middle-Eastern visits of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU’s top external relations representative Catherine Ashton. Both diplomats have made propositions paving the way to possible resolution of the 40-years old conflict.
John Kerry has called on Tel-Aviv to revisit the 2002 peace initiative forwarded by the League of Arab States (LAS). While in Amman, Jordan he stated: “Israel needs to look hard at this initiative which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations” (See: «Керри призывает Израиль пересмотреть отношение к арабской мирной инициативе» // www.isra.com, 17 July, 2013).
According to the Arab proposal, Israel must retreat to the 1967 borders and relinquish all Arab territories occupied that same year. In the meantime, Tel-Aviv has to be tolerant on the issue of “disputed lands” including Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Golan Heights. It has to agree to just addressing of the “Palestinian refugees” issue. Another demand that is raised before the Israel is the release of Palestinian prisoners remaining in custody.
It has to be said that so far those proposals have been dismissed by the official Tel-Aviv. Ariel Sharon’s government has rejected them at the time while the Arabs came out with the so-called “Qatar amendment”. Accordingly, a swap of certain territories occupied by Israel in 1967 could be considered. Regardless, Israel was defiant in rejecting the proposals.
Israel has always declared its readiness to negotiations. However, forces within the government have failed to act. Just as today, “Bayit Yehudi”, “Israel Our Home” and “Likud” parties denounce LAS’s proposals (See: «Керри покидает Ближний Восток, не убедив ООП» // www.neswru.co.il, 19 July, 2013). Conflicting reports emerge on Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) position on the processes. In an interview with Israeli “WallaNews” member of the PLO Executive Committee Qais Abdul Karim said that negotiations must be postponed until Israel agreed to withdraw to pre-1967 borders and halt construction activity in the occupied Palestinian territories (www.newsru.co.il).
It is indicative of the fact that the parties remain defiant. Notwithstanding, Western diplomatic pressure is mounting. U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Israeli PM Netanyahu urging him to reengage negotiations (See: «Обама призывает Нетаньяху возобновить переговоры с Палестиной» (Obama calls upon Netanyahu to resume negotiations with Palestine, www.eer.ru, 19 July, 2013).
In the meantime, most recently the EU has adopted a surprise decision. Brussels condemned settlement policy of the official Tel-Aviv and construction activity on the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem and Golan Heights. Respective decision prohibits any cooperation with the Israeli organizations involved in such an activity. Indeed, it was on December the 4th 2012 that the European politicians denounced Tel-Aviv’s move to restart construction in the Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Whereas now EU demands Israel to return to pre-1967 borders and cease construction works in the Palestinian territories. Palestinians were fast to respond. Palestinian Authority’s official Hanan Ashrawi said: “The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace”.
EU’s new political initiatives are not limited to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Brussels displays eagerness to be active throughout the Middle East. After her meetings with Egypt’s interim President Adli Mansour and the Vice-President ElBaradei, Catherine Ashton announced: “I have made it clear in my statements and all the meetings that I believe Mr. Morsi should be released, and that I believe that political prisoners should be released”.
When it comes to the South Caucasus… Double standards
Indeed, those endeavors of the EU can only be welcomed. Its position is just, and principle of justice has to be the fundamental value in the world. In the meantime, that very principle has to be upheld in all international issues. Its individual application to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution is discrimination on its own. In certain cases, it is not only that the Western countries disregard the principle of justice, but they also apply double standards. Eventually, it leads to aggravation of the geopolitical landscape in the whole world and erodes trust of the people to just resolution of conflicts.
We witness that in the failed resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict that has lasted for many years. Firstly, it must be said that the driving force behind the vigorous negotiations of the U.S. and the EU with Israeli and Palestinian leaders is evident. Obama, Kerry, Ashton and others are aiming to pressure and persuade Israel. Palestinians are also kept within reach and urged to come to peace. One may already cite certain progress.
During a press-conference held on July the 19th in Amman, Jordan the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. He was quoted saying that talks may restart in a matter of days. This is the exact approach that is missing on the Nagorno Karabakh issue.
For over 20 years, the Minsk Group of the OSCE has “supposedly” been dealing with the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. On one hand, UN, EU, Council of Europe and the OSCE adopt documents reiterating support to territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. They refer to Armenia as an aggressor. On the other hand, their words have never been converted into actions. Heads of the Minsk Group co-chair states often deliver eloquent and comprehensive statements. For instance, they denounce protraction of the current situation, yet their commitment is limited to empty words.
Take Barack Obama. He telephones Israeli Prime Minister and the Presidency to unequivocally convey necessity of reaching a peace accord, while instructing his Secretary of State to visit the region. As to John Kerry, in his talks with the Israelis, he uses imperative language and is able to convince them on some issues. Same reason and spirit prevails in the actions of the EU officials. Along with demanding official Tel-Aviv to halt construction in the occupied territories, it takes concrete actions to that end. C. Ashton also appears defiant in demanding official Cairo to release Mursi.
Can someone recall a single action by the U.S. or the EU against Armenia? Well, we fail to do so. Official Yerevan illegally resettles Armenian families in Lachin district, but the West is idle. Mosque in the city of Shusha is turned into a military ammunition depot, but no comments are made. It has been 20 years that thousands of Azerbaijanis are held in captivity in Armenia, but not a single Western head of state or a high-ranking official ever called on Armenia to release them.
Almost all leading international institutions have adopted documents stipulating withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories. Regardless, with the exception of Turkey, no other large power has demanded withdrawal of troops from the occupied lands. Moreover, they have pressured those who do brand Armenia an aggressor. Most recently, Moldova’s Ombudsperson came under tremendous pressure, even from official Kishinev, for raising her voice about Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. And those countries that recognized Armenian aggression on paper failed to do as little as protecting the rights of a lady Ombudsperson. What objectives does such an attitude imply?
Apparently, some quarters have monopolized resolution of conflicts in the South Caucasus, and they seem to enjoy the support of the Western circles. However, this attitude is far from being just and fair! Aggressor cannot be justified by any means. Such actions will produce a boomerang effect for the West. Indeed, there are some indications signaling the start of the process. Therefore, the West must not forget the adherence to just position on the Nagorno Karabakh issue. It would benefit the world in general!