The Ambassador at the Global Diplomatic ForumOct. 26, 2016, midnight
Ambassador Hassassian was invited to speak at the annual Global Diplomatic Forum again this year, an event he has been a regular contributor to for the last seven years. The prestigious event, held in central London last night, debated the realities of a post-ISIS Middle East and the potential road map to regional security.
Amongst those sharing the podium with HE Manuel Hassassian, were Sir Edward Leigh MP, Ellie Geranmayeh, Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and HE Karwan Jamal Tahir, High Representative to the United Kingdom of Kurdistan Regional Government. The panel particularly focused on Russia’s role in the region and the revival of the Middle East Peace Process. The Ambassador, spoke with authority on all the key issues.
He said that a key cause for the rise of ISIS was the failure of democratic secularism in the region. The dominance of authoritarian governments has given way to totalitarianism in the form of Islamic extremism as personified by ISIS. The acute poverty and lack of hope, which found a form of expression in the Arab Spring, was also a cause for a shift to extremist positions. The elements which have given rise to the current state of affairs have not been removed and instability will persist.
A just solution for the Palestinians has been relegated to the back burner within this context, yet the Palestinian and Israeli conflict differentiates itself from the wider regional dynamic because it is a conflict between two ethnic groups where Israel, the occupying power brutally oppressing Palestinians and is continuing to dispossess them of their land. Yet the instability of the wider region will always be tied to the fate of Palestine and as long as there is no independent Palestinian state, there will not be regional stability.
In all this, Israel is exploiting the current chaos for its own ends. It is instilling fear within its own population of the ‘Muslim’ threat and ISIS, as well as of the regional influence of Iran. Netanyahu has been using this fear to justify, in the name of security, unrestrained and deeply damaging policies and actions, whether it be accelerated settlement building and expropriation of land, acts of brutal military occupation and groundlessly accusing President Abbas of not being a partner for peace.
Israel, however, has to, once and for all, face the basic reality that it will never achieve its increasingly exposed aim of Eretz Israel without ethnically cleansing the 5 million Palestinians living in besieged Gaza and the occupied West Bank. A form of ethnic cleansing has already begun, in a covert way, in the guise of Israeli discriminatory policies and the brutal acts of occupation.
The Ambassador concluded that Israel, in its attempt to create facts on the ground is, however, being overtaken by new realities where the support of the US, operating as a uni-power is no longer probable. The Russians and the Chinese are now asserting themselves in the region with the Russians, in particular, taking an active role. The Middle East will no longer be an open playing field for Israel and its ally, the US.