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Israel works to build int’l support for operation

CM 13/05/2021

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The Foreign Ministry had a positive view on world responses to Operation Guardians of the Walls, as it worked to preserve Israel’s international legitimacy to continue fighting against Hamas.The assessment came a day after a security cabinet source said that Israel has not faced significant pressure to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas. Several senior Israeli sources have said in recent days that the US is not pushing for a ceasefire.“The fact that most of the international community supports Israel’s stance of defending itself is a result of [ambassadors’] extensive and important diplomatic activities since the events broke out, and the conversations I had with dozens of Foreign Ministers around the world,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said on Thursday.Among those was EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, who tweeted that he had a “long and honest conversation with Gabi Ashkenazi. Reaffirmed the EU’s support to Israel’s security & condemned Hamas indiscriminate firing of rockets. Important that any response avoids civilian casualties. I am reaching out to regional actors to contribute towards de-escalation.”Ashkenazi spoke to Israeli ambassadors in what the ministry considers core locations – Europe, Arab states, the US and the UN – to discuss their next steps.“We have to maintain space to act in an assertive and unapologetic way,” Ashkenazi said. “No country would agree to accept shooting on its capital, its parliament and its international airport while millions of its residents must spend nights in safe rooms.”The chief goal of the Foreign Ministry and its ambassadors is to “ensure that the IDF has space to act and maneuver,” he added.

Ashkenazi said Hamas started the violence against Israel as part of a power struggle after the Palestinian Authority canceled its elections.“They are a terrorist organization trying to take control of the Palestinian discourse and position itself among Palestinians as the defender of Jerusalem generally and the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque specifically,” said Ashkenazi. “We cannot give Hamas a victory – that is a shared interest of the international community.”Foreign Ministry officials have expressed concern about the popularity of the narrative that the current round of violence is due to the property dispute in Sheikh Jarrah\Shimon Hatzadik in Jerusalem, a court case between private people that is often depicted as a government effort to evict Palestinians.Ashkenazi asked ambassadors in their conversations with foreign ministers, diplomats and the media in core countries to emphasize that Israel tried to bring calm and showed restraint against Hamas and other terrorist groups, and tried to avoid a deterioration, while allowing freedom of religion.Foreign Ministry Political Director Alon Bar explained in a briefing that diplomats are working to protect Israel’s legitimacy in striking Hamas by making three main points. First, that Hamas is indiscriminately shooting rockets at Israeli civilians, second that the onus for the escalation is on Hamas, and third, that Israel has a right to defend itself.Israel’s ambassadors are trying to cut through the Hamas narrative that Israeli actions, especially in Jerusalem, are to blame.They are working to get as many public statements by senior officials as possible that are in line with Israel’s messaging, and have found that, thus far, about half were.In addition to Ashkenazi’s conversations with foreign ministers and ambassadors abroad working around the world, the Foreign Ministry has met with foreign diplomats based in Israel.“It’s easier to talk to the ambassadors after they had to run for shelter [from rocket fire] several times,” Bar quipped.Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke today with his Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian counterparts.  He underlined our deep concern at the ongoing escalation, the human toll of which is already very heavy, and our desire to contribute to a rapid easing of tensions.He again strongly condemned the attacks carried out against a large part of Israeli territory and claimed in particular by Hamas, and recalled that the response to these unacceptable attacks must remain proportionate.  He stressed that all actors on the ground must work to end the violence and praised the central role played by Egypt in this regard.He called for continued appeasement measures in Jerusalem, recalling our commitment to the 1967 status quo on the Holy Places and our firm opposition to colonization in all its forms.He reaffirmed France’s will to contribute to a return to the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to calm in Israel and the Palestinian territories.Also on Thursday, the US objected to a request by China, Norway and Tunisia for a public, virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday to discuss the worsening violence between Israel and Palestinian terrorists, diplomats said.The US cited diplomatic efforts as the reason for the objection, saying a council discussion would not be productive, but left the door open for a possible meeting on Tuesday, the diplomats said.The 15-member council has met privately twice this week on the worst hostilities in the region in years, but has so far been unable to issue a public statement because the US did not believe it would be helpful, diplomats said.Such statements are only made by consensus.
Source: Jerusalem Post

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