Gaza in “pre-conflict” state, says Luxembourg Foreign Minister
(CS) Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has warned that the situation on the ground in Gaza is closer to “pre-conflict” than “post-conflict”, saying that the expansion of settlements was fanning the flames.
Asselborn was speaking at a meeting between EU and Gulf Cooperation Council ministers in Doha, Qatar, last week when he commented that nine months after the latest outbreak of violence in Gaza “nothing is settled.”
He added that no progress has been made towards a permanent ceasefire and that reconstruction efforts are moving ahead too slowly. “Today, the situation on the ground in Gaza is closer to a pre-conflict than a post-conflict situation,” Asselborn said.
The minister strongly criticised plans for the expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying they “continue to pour oil on the fire. “Regrettably, the new Israeli government has chosen to pursue settlement policy.”
Asselborn continued to say that the peace-process “does not really deserve this name anymore” and is deadlocked.
“There will be no lasting peace until the Palestinian aspirations for a state and sovereignty and those of Israelis for security have not been met within the framework of a comprehensive peace agreement, based on the coexistence of two states which continues, I believe, to be our common goal,” he said.
No return to status quo
The Foreign Minister warned of a return to status quo and instead called on the international community to play its part in the solution of the conflict, “although Israelis and Palestinians are the ones who have to negotiate.”
Asselborn argued that international law and the UN Security Council needed to be put at the centre of resolving the issue, adding that EU and Arab states should be more closely involved in the negotiations. He also said that the inter-Palestinian peace process needed to be supported.
The Foreign Minister used the opportunity to look back on the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict during his 11 years in office. “When in 2004 I was nominated Foreign Minister of Luxembourg there was a lot of hope in the international community in what we call the Middle East Peace Process,” he commented. “Hope is not a political criteria anywhere,” he added, “but indifference cannot be an alternative.”
Asselborn has long been a vocal opponent of the Gaza blockade and Israel's settlement policy. He has repeatedly called for a two-state solution. Luxembourg in 2014 voted for a draft-resolution put forward by Jordan at the UN Security Council to help move forward the resolution of the conflict. However, the resolution failed.
The Luxembourg parliament at the end of last year voted in favour of recognising Palestine as a state. At the start of this year, President Mahmoud Abbas visited the Grand Duchy, announcing that Palestine would upgrade the status of its diplomatic representation by appointing an ambassador to Luxembourg, to be based in Brussels.