Intense Diplomacy Taking Place To Prevent All-Out Israeli-Palestinian War
May 12, 2021 (EIRNS)—Over the past 24-36 hours, intense diplomacy has been taking place among world leaders, government and institutional officials—the United Nations—in an effort to de-escalate what could become a full-blown flashpoint for regional and even global war going beyond the ostensible “conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” Several parties are now seeking to begin a negotiation process. This afternoon, Moscow time, following a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for an emergency meeting of the Middle East Quartet. “Today,” he said, “we’ve come to the common opinion that the most pressing task is to convene the Quartet of international mediators—Russia, the United States, the UN and the EU,” The Australian reported him as saying. Tor Wennesland, UN Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process, added urgency to the call, tweeting today: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of deescalation. The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now.”
Heads of state and government or foreign ministers from several countries have communicated by phone urging Israeli and Palestinian restraint—as the death toll, particularly on the Palestinian side, climbed dramatically close to 60, including 15 children, as a result of Israeli air strikes on Gaza. President Joe Biden has been out of sight during this period. After speaking with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazy this morning, Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later today to communicate to him the U.S.’s support for Israel’s “right to self-defense,” but also cautioned him that Israel had a “special burden” to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties. Blinken also announced that he is immediately sending Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to the region—with no details on where he will be going or with whom he will meet. Blinken also spoke with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov. President Putin spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Lavrov also consulted with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
At the UN Security Council, Russia and China have been coordinating closely to get out a statement on the situation. China occupies the rotating UNSC presidency for May, and since the evening of May 10, according to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershunin, has been consulting with Russia and other member states to draft a statement. At today’s Chinese Foreign Ministry briefing, in response to a question, spokeswoman Hua Chunying reported: “In collaboration with relevant countries, China drafted and disseminated a Security Council presidential statement. Most countries supported this draft and called for its early release. But regrettably, the Council has yet to reach consensus on it.” According to the Times of Israel, a draft of the statement condemned looming evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The U.S. and the U.K. prevented its release, saying it would not be “useful.”