Israel-Hamas conflict – What is Serbia’s official stance?

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas and the violence that has claimed thousands of lives already has entered its ninth day. The Israeli army has announced that it is carrying out massive strikes on many locations of the Islamists in the Gaza Strip.

 Among the dead in Israel, more than 260 bodies have been found so far at the site of a music festival in southern Israel, where also some of the hostages were taken. Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that there are Serbian citizens among the victims.

Since the beginning of the conflict, for the past five days, our top officials have not commented anything on the conflict or Serbia’s official stance about this brutal conflict, i.e. both our foreign minister and president, Ivica Dačić and Aleksandar Vučić, respectively, have been keeping mum.

Research Director of the International and Security Affairs Centre, Igor Novaković, says there are few chances for peace in this area.

“The possibilities for a peace perspective are very slim indeed. The basic problem is that after such a massive attack that has been going on for days, the Government of Israel has to respond with more force,, and we have already seen this happening in the Gaza Strip. However, this stronger intervention can cause a widespread humanitarian disaster and further inflammation of the conflict. It remains unclear how Israel thinks it can carry out an operation that will lead to the removal of Hamas from Gaza without major casualties,” Novaković says.

Đukić: The EU’s attitude towards the conflict is closest to Serbia’s

Former diplomat Srećko Đukić believes that Serbia must have a clear and active foreign policy towards this conflict.

“We must have a clear attitude towards all international issues, in the immediate and wider environment, especially when it comes to the Middle East and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. This conflict did not start only recently but has been going on for years. Our country must have a clear position on it, not an ambivalent one. The position that best suits Serbia’s interests is the position expressed by the European Union,” Đukić said.

Even if our country expressed its official stance, says Đukić, it will be a moderate one, just like that of the EU.

To remind, the EU’s position is that Israel has the right to self-defence, but that it must respect international humanitarian law.

Commenting on the position that is often mentioned in our relationship towards Israel and Palestine, and it concerns the fact that Palestine did not recognize Kosovo as an independent state, while Israel did, the diplomat says that Israel’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence came after the infamous meeting between Aleksandar Vučić and Donald Trump in the White House.

“The fact that Palestine did not recognize Kosovo, but Israel did, is a combination of unfortunate circumstances related to the Washington Agreement and Vučić’s meeting with Trump in the White House. Israel was also not ready and did not recognize Kosovo’s independence until that moment, but following the Serbian embassy’s official relocation to Jerusalem, also came Israel’s recognition, along with other steps that were made at that time,” Đukić added.

He goes on to say that Serbia must stand on the side of international law and international principles and that in this case, it is the fight against terrorism.

“This is a case of brutal terrorism, which was brutally responded to. We must not support or encourage terrorism in any way and there can be no reservations about it. I can’t understand the sympathy for what an extremely terrorist Palestinian organization did. I would like to reiterate that this was not done by the Palestinians as a people and as a nation, but by a terrorist organization. Unfortunately, such an organization has relations with Russia and Iran, but that should not be a measure for us,” warns the former ambassador of our country.

Janković: Serbia should have a neutral position

Dr. Slobodan M. Janković from the Institute for International Politics and Economy Institute, believes that Serbia should adopt a neutral position in its foreign policy regarding the conflict.

“Serbian officials should have a neutral position towards the conflict between Israel and Hamas because it is something that suits our country best at this moment,” he adds.

In terms of the Israel-Hamas conflict, he sees two possible scenarios: “One is the expulsion of the entire population of the Gaza Strip in one very bloody military operation and the second is to either annex the Gaza Strip to Egypt or declare it as some kind of state. The current situation is unsustainable.”

Dr Janković also explains the main problems of residents in the Gaza Strip have been facing in the last several years.

“Since 2020, they often don’t have drinking water or electricity for most of the day and their children go to schools run by the United Nations,” explained Janković and added:” The Israeli army controls their waterways. The Gaza Strip residents cannot leave the area by sea or river because the Israelis have full border control. In such a situation, Hamas and Islamic Jihadists engage in conflicts occasionally in order to simply legitimize themselves in front of the local population.”

He also notes the reports made by psychologists and psychiatrists who occasionally go to the Gaza Strip, which state that various types of psychopathology and neurosis are widespread among the population.

(N1, 15.10.2023)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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