Israel needs to clarify which borders are acceptable: UAE's Gargash explains path to peace

The top Emirati diplomat says: 'We need to go back to Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side... Borders, refugees, East Jerusalem have to be sorted out'

By Edited by Kirstin Bernabe

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Reuters
Reuters

Published: Wed 22 Nov 2023, 1:14 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Nov 2023, 2:42 PM

Amidst the raging war in Gaza, the UAE has been firm in its stance on the Israel-Palestine crisis: Only a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state would bring lasting peace.

Top Emirati diplomat Dr Anwar Gargash, in a recent statement, said failure to revive peace talks towards a two-state solution would be a "costly mistake".

Gargash, who serves as Diplomatic Adviser to the UAE President, recently spoke at this year's IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain — highlighting what he described as the 'unprecedented carnage' in Gaza and how the UAE sees a path to resolving the crisis.

Here are some excerpts from the speech he delivered at the event, addressing top government officials and experts from around the world:

How a two-state solution can be achieved

Perhaps the lesson that we, as the majority of people in the region, are taking away from the Gaza crisis is the need to go back to a two-state solution. We need to go back to Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side.

We need to keep our compass — all of us as responsible members of the international community — in the right direction .

We need be very frank with the Israelis: What are the borders that you are accepting? What are these borders that ... you've been averse to during the partition in 1967 and so on, so forth.

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Going beyond policy of containment

The policy of containment, which has characterized the Palestinian issue for so long, has clearly failed as the events of the past month have shown.

It would be a costly mistake to fail to re-engage politically on a peace process framework to achieve a two-state solution.

Borders, refugees, East Jerusalem have to be sorted out. We hope this outcome will bring a promise of lasting peace to the Palestinian and Israel people and will require strong and sustained International engagement.

... We must resolutely continue on a path to defend regional stability and that requires that we need to go beyond containment as we address the current crisis in Gaza.

We need to continue efforts to repair the region including by advancing our national plans to ensure progress and through collaborative efforts with global and regional partners.

This requires a process of problem-solving rather than containment because, crucially, there are issues in the region that need sustainable solutions: (From) the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (to) other ongoing crisis, socioeconomic disparities, and aspirations for peace and prosperity of young people across the region.

While some of these issues still seem out of reach, they must be addressed to bring greater stability to the Middle East.

The longer Gaza war lasts, the higher the risks

Another point I wanted to make which is that at this uncertain time in global and regional affairs, it is imperative that the Middle East continue to carefully chart a course to ensure stability, prosperity and peace.

For our nation, we have seen some promising signs in the last few years as Middle Eastern states have been working together to find solutions to de-escalate conflicts rebuild relations focus on common goals.

Despite this progress being uneven, we had renewed hopes that the Middle East will be charting a new path for the years to come.

But the war in Gaza represents a serious setback, no doubt, on de-escalation efforts in the wider region.

The longer it lasts, the higher the risks are that the war will spread regionally and that the current violence will only breed more violence and fuel greater radicalisation in the region. I wonder sometimes if this is another Iraq moment.

To be honest, we must prevent narratives of division from taking hold in the region and confront extremism in all its forms while we continue to work hard towards cessation of hostilities.

UAE efforts to alleviate suffering in Gaza

The immediate priority is to achieve sustained and unrestricted humanitarian access to Gaza.

In response to this acute need, the UAE has significantly stepped up its humanitarian efforts to support the people of Gaza — not just by increasing our financial commitments but also by working in solidarity with medical teams to set up an emergency field hospital in Gaza and by taking children to the UAE for medical treatment.

We saw images of the first 90 injured children being airlifted to Abu Dhabi and this is part of our commitment to take a thousand of the injured children in Gaza with their families.

This, of course, is just a drop in the ocean of what Gaza needs in terms of the images that we see of the carnage and the human suffering — but we have to all work together in order to make the humanitarian effort significant and sustainable.

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