Long-term solutions must follow the Palestine-Israel ceasefire

Palestinian protesters wave flags during a rally to celebrate the cease fire reached between Hamas and Israel, after an 11 day war, in the West Bank city of Jenin, May 22. EPA
Palestinian protesters wave flags during a rally to celebrate the cease fire reached between Hamas and Israel, after an 11 day war, in the West Bank city of Jenin, May 22. EPA

The scenes of Gazans celebrating, in light of the ceasefire at 2am on Friday, were in stark contrast to the devastation wreaked in the previous 11 days of deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The enforcement of the mutual ceasefire, arbitrated chiefly by Egypt, was urgently needed and is a welcome development.

Assured of a cessation of hostilities on May 21, people whistled and cheered, Palestinian flags were waved, Gazans chanted in the streets and on top of cars.

The cause of this celebration, however, marks a sombre outcome: at least 232 Gazans were killed, including 65 children and 1,710 people were wounded. On the Israeli side, two children, were among the 10 people killed by rocket fire and 118 were wounded.

There is no doubt that the truce was the immediate need. It delivered critical respite to the over 2 million people living in Gaza, in addition to those living in other Palestinian territories and Israel. Much-needed humanitarian aid is entering Gaza, finally.

But history underlines the fact that a temporary fix cannot hold. The hard work starts now. Long-term solutions must be sought to end the violence that flares up every few years, over the past many decades, in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In this latest round, over the past week, even as families bury their dead, signs of unity have been witnessed among Palestinians, whether among those living in Gaza or in the West Bank or in Israel. A wave of solidarity, manifesting in marches and protests that aligned with the Palestinian cause, has swept around the world. Palestinians need to build on this momentum. They should continue to rally in the interest of a solution. Similarly, Israel must pursue peace with the Palestinians.

Global and regional powers need to build on the cause of diplomacy and determine resolutions.

Last Thursday, US President Joe Biden spoke to his Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to review progress on brokering a ceasefire. Egypt borders Gaza and Israel and the country has been mediating between the two sides. Mr Biden spoke with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu six times, he said, in an effort to bring about the de-escalation, having earlier said Israel has a right to defend itself.

Mr Biden also called Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas for the first time since taking office in the White House. However, the US blocked a UN joint Security Council statement – three times – which called for ceasefire, a delay that ultimately cost more lives. Around the world, more was expected from Mr Biden's administration that has claimed to promote a foreign policy based on values and humanitarian channels.

From within the administration though, signs of change are beginning to show, with pressure mounting from within the Democratic party, indicating a shift in the US towards Palestine.

The first step to resolve the conflict must be for both sides to agree on the need for a definitive solution.

In light of this ceasefire, diplomatic efforts must resume. It is critical for both sides to engage in earnest. In the long run, a temporary truce is untenable.

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