The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross held a press conference Thursday, warning of “crisis of hope” in Gaza, and in general, discussed the humanitarian situation in Palestine and the conflict.
By Emma Von Lego and Bettina Boye/
“We believe that settlement expansion policies pursued in recent decades by successive Israeli governments have facilitated the process of de-facto annexation. It has complicated the dialogue between the different communities” stated Peter Maurer, at the press conference, after a three-day trip to Palestine, Israel and Gaza. During his visit he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar
In the end of the trip, Peter Maurer held a press conference in East Jerusalem Thursday, where he shared his concerns about the illegal occupations on Palestine territories. Even though the Red Cross is a non-political organization and has to remain neutral in political issues, he discussed the Israeli settlements and described them as the main reason of the Palestinian suffering and that the settlements is a result of “de-facto annexation” of The West Bank. “The settlement enterprise goes against the provisions and the spirit of international humanitarian law, the law of occupation, as we call it,” Mr. Maurer said. He argues that the occupation in the West Bank has an impact on the Palestinians freedom of movement, agriculture, the social and economic fabrics and basic things as the water resources and supply, and concludes by saying “(…) and the list could go on”.
Throughout the conference Mr. Maurer referred to the Geneva Convention, and argued that it is considered the reason why settlements are illegal, and therefore are against international law. Due to this fact he emphasized that he strongly believes the Geneva convention is “the best legal framework” for Palestinians and Israelis to address and solve their conflict.
He also addressed humanitarian issues and violations going on in Gaza, such as maintaining of the Israeli prisoners in Gaza. Despite of that, he declared that his organization is in no position to negotiate with Hamas, and to set a deal with Hamas and Israel to secure the Israelis held in Gaza. “It’s up to the Israeli government and the authorities in Gaza to decide whether and how they want to negotiate these issues”.
As a closure to the press conference, Peter Maurer underlines that the conflict have been at the top of intension, but due to other conflicts in the world, the focus on the conflict in Israel and Palestine is volatile and sometimes forgotten and saying, “it is often a competition about, who can steal the focus of the world”.
While there are lot of concerns about international law and the peace processes, there are also other problems going on in the world, and that is why people in Israel and Palestine have to engage in the conflict to contribute to the peace process. “We have to ask people to engage and to help, and to find people, who have an influence on the conflict so they can help to find a solution,” he ended the conference with.