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Middle East conflict: Sweden opts for pragmatism

January 9, 2009

The Foreign Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, has made it clear that the best way for durable peace in the Middle East is to end the economic isolation of the already impoverished Gaza Strip. Speaking to reporters in Stockholm after a visit to Middle East as part of an EU delegation, Carl Bildt, reiterated that “You cannot stop the smuggling without ending the isolation policy”

During the press briefing on Thursday January 8, the Swedish top diplomat equally castigated Israel for some of its policies, which he described as morally indefensible. According to a report published in The Local, Sweden’s leading newspapers in English, Israel policy of isolating the Gaza strip “ is in itself not morally defensible, but it is also not politically possible to stop the smuggling because of the extremely strong excitement to smuggle that is baked into the isolation policy”

Israel and its strongest ally, the US, have constantly accused Hamas, which controls Gaza since June 2007, of smuggling weapons through tunnels. These weapons among which are rockets said to be made in Iran and China are used to launch attacks on Israel.

Minister Carl emphasized that when people are over isolated, they will certainly try to “dig their way out” the other way. Carl noted with regrets that the blockade of Gaza Strip, resulting to the acute shortage of food and other basic resources, have pushed people to digging tunnels to transport food as well as to smuggle explosives and other weapons.

He went further, “For every bomb that falls, for every rocket that is shot, for every child that dies, hatred, opposition and tensions are created that we will later have to deal with,"

Sweden is expected to take over the rotating leadership of the European Union later this year and Carl has expressed his wish to see lasting peace in the Middle East.

Since the creation of the state of Israeli in 1948, it has never been at peace with her Arab neighbours. Both parties need to make sacrifices for any meaningful peace.

Impunity and arrogance!

In a related development, the acting President of South Africa, in at major press outing after 100 days in office, regretted that some countries do act with impunity because of their economic or military strength.

In an interview published on January 8, by Mail and Guardian, Kgalema Motlanthe said “….the UN, and the UN Security Council in particular, is in need of urgent reform in order to become more representative of the world’s population. The problem is that if a country has powerful friends on the Security Council they can sometimes act with impunity. All you have to do is listen to the minister of foreign affairs or defence of Israel to know that you are dealing with people who believe they can cock a snook with impunity.”

According to him, just as many leaders of other nations, there is the urgent need to review the issue of veto power in the UN Security. Many of the few countries with veto power have abused such privileges.

Yes, because the veto powers enjoyed by some on this council in fact also promote selfish and sectional interests, which is contrary to the collective and principled mandate of the UN…” he said.

In another interview equally published on BBC website, Yigal Palmor an Israeli foreign ministry worker said “Hamas must not be able to re-arm itself, and that the UN resolution "does not provide practical means to create a sustainable ceasefire".

Sweden recently authorised a 10 million Swedish kronor, about $1.3 million of emergency aide for the trouble-ridden Gazans. The suggestion of the Swedish foreign Minister if applied may go a long way to established e “sustainable peace” in Middle East and pave the way for the creation of two independent states, that is, Israel and Palestine. However, Sweden just as the EU, considers Hamas, a terrorist organisation.

The political, economic and military ambitions as well as illusions of several countries have prevented them from making any peace in most parts of the world a reality. They prefer working on statements and at times provocative ones, with virtually no weight. Often, actions are completely neglected and some actions taken, instead stir more conflict.

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