Discover more from Andrew Korybko's Newsletter
Lavrov Elaborated On Russian Policy Towards The Israeli-Hamas War In His Latest Interview
Bottom line: Russia blames Israel, Hamas, and the US for this war, and will try to mediate a resolution.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s latest interview with Belarusian outlet BelTA saw him elaborating on his country’s policy towards the Israeli-Hamas war among other subjects, but it’s his insight into the first-mentioned that forms the focus of this piece. Russia’s principled neutrality has been spun by propagandists from both camps to pressure it into taking their side, which has confused many average folks about its position, hence why attention is being drawn to its top diplomat’s clarification thereof.
* Putin condemns Hamas’ infamous terrorist attack against Israel
- “Our President has made it abundantly clear that we categorically reject and condemn any terrorist acts. We extend our condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in Israel and Palestine. And in other countries, too. There were a lot of foreigners in the region, including many Russian citizens, among whom there are victims too, unfortunately.”
* But he also condemns Israel’s disproportionate and illegal response
- “But while condemning terrorism, we categorically disagree that terrorism can be responded to by violating the international humanitarian law, the indiscriminate use of force, including against targets with civilians, hostage-taking and other actions that, as I have already said, contradict the international humanitarian law.”
* Lavrov is proud of the fact that the USSR helped initiate Israel’s creation
- “Israel was created immediately. The Soviet Union was one of the main initiators of the creation of a Jewish state at a time when the British, having left the region in chaos, did not care much about this topic. We were in favor of the creation of an Israeli state and we were the first, the Soviet Union was the first to recognize this state.”
* But he regrets that a Palestinian state has yet to be created too
- “But the Palestinian state has not yet been created for various reasons. With each historical period, the idea became more and more fleeting.”
* The Arab wars against Israel were counterproductive to the Palestinians’ cause
- “The territory that was allotted to the Palestinians at the time of the creation of Israel has been successively reduced several times, simply by actions on the ground. Indeed, we can talk about the reasons here. There were wars that were started by the Arab countries against Israel and that ended in the sad loss of land for the Arabs. But the result remains, nevertheless, negative. We still do not have a Palestinian state.”
* Israel’s obsession with security obstructed the creation of a Palestinian state
- “A long time ago, in calmer times, I discussed with my Israeli colleagues the situation in the Middle East and the prospects for a direct dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. They were very emotional in what concerns Israel's right to defend itself and about extremist actions against Israel or against Israelis in this or that region. Extremism must be eradicated by any means. That was their position.”
* That in turn fueled the terrorism and extremism that presently afflicts the region
- “No one wants to encourage extremism, let alone terrorism, but I told them a very simple thing. Putting aside the immediate, momentary processes associated with extremist sentiments, it is impossible not to admit that in historical terms the unresolved issue of a Palestinian state is, in my opinion, the most serious factor that is used to fuel extremism and terrorism in the region.”
* “Indoctrinated” Palestinians then committed suicide bombings and perpetuated the cycle of violence
- “The region, except for the Arabian monarchies, is not very prosperous. Many children are born into poor families. They are told by ‘experienced teachers' that this is happening because they have been deprived of the independent state promised by the UN. That they have been occupied.
That there is the UN decision that Israel is an occupying power. From the cradle, from a young age, they are brought up in this way, one may say, indoctrinated. Over the past 75 years at least two generations have grown up in this extremist spirit, including suicide bombers.”
* Hamas’ terrorist attack and Israel’s disproportionate response doomed the peace process for now
- “Right now, they are unlikely to sit down at the negotiating table. They, especially the Israelis, are just bitter. This is evident in numerous official statements by the leadership: the prime minister, the minister of defense, the minister of economy and other members of the Cabinet.
But the Palestinians are also on edge, given the thousands of civilians who have been killed or injured as a result of Israel's response. Therefore, having lost a huge number of people both in Israel and in Palestine, including foreigners, they are unlikely to sit down at the negotiating table now.”
* Lavrov suspects that the UN is covering up Israel’s killing of its Palestinian employees
- “By the way, we saw journalists ask the representative of the UN secretary general how many UN employees were killed, and he couldn't answer. It's astonishing! The UNRWA Relief and Works Agency for Palestine alone employed hundreds of citizens.
Most of them are hired locally from among local people, but this does not change the fact. UN personnel must be covered by special immunity. It is strange that the United Nations does not care about the fate of its employees.”
* He also explained the key differences between Russia and the US’ UNSC draft resolutions
- “We condemn terrorism. We also believe it is unacceptable to respond to terrorism in a way that harms innocent civilians. We remain focused on how to end the hot phase, and for this we call for an immediate ceasefire. This is the difference between our resolution, which we put forward to the UN Security Council two times, and the U.S. resolution that does not say a word about a ceasefire. It only condemns Hamas for what it does and insists that Israel has a full right to defend itself by all means.”
* Israel’s disproportionate response risks creating a centuries-long humanitarian catastrophe
“It is clear that such an approach is disastrous, because if the Gaza Strip is destroyed, if two million residents are driven out, as some politicians in Israel and abroad are implying, this will create a catastrophe that will last for many decades, if not centuries. Therefore, we need to put an end to it and we need to mount humanitarian efforts to save people who are under blockade without water, electricity, food, heat – they have nothing.”
* That outcome combined with Palestine’s continued occupation pose a threat to Israeli security
- “And our draft resolution that we, together with China and Arab countries tried to push through the Security Council, was aimed precisely at achieving these goals. But the Americans vetoed it, thereby confirming that their task was to fully support Israel in whatever it does.
We have repeatedly told our Israeli colleagues that this situation will not calm down unless a Palestinian state is created. Israel will keep living surrounded by unstable Palestinian territories. Until Palestinians have their state, the Palestinian territories will constantly pose a threat to the State of Israel.”
* Nevertheless, most Israeli governments fail to realize this and make excuses to uphold the status quo
“The overwhelming majority of governments that have run Israel, including all the governments that Benjamin Netanyahu led, said ‘we are in favor of negotiations,’ but made up many excuses not to start such negotiations. They claimed that Palestinians are not united, that it was not clear who to talk to, there is Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, and there is Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas does not recognize him.”
* Lavrov implied that Israel shouldn’t have “encouraged” Hamas as a “counterbalance” to the PLO
- “Hamas was once seen as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization during the time of Yasser Arafat, when the Palestine Liberation Organization was considered a terrorist organization. Hamas was even encouraged as a counterbalance until the Palestine Liberation Organization changed its charter and recognized Israel's right to existence. Yasser Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize, and so on.”
* He also said that the US’ support of Gaza’s elections was either “reckless” or a “cold calculation”
- “The Americans were committed to holding elections in the Gaza Strip, because there must be democracy there. Analyzing the situation on the ground and the balance of power, we warned that the mood in society was radical and the result might not be in favor of direct negotiations with Israel. She categorically refused to accept these arguments.
The elections were announced, and they must be held. So they did, and Hamas won. The Americans did not recognize the result of these elections. There's this recklessness in their policy. Or maybe it's a cold calculation, namely to create irritants and provoke instability by any means, and then step in and decide how things should look like there.”
* Russia continues urging Israel to stop its “declared scorched-earth strategy in Gaza”
- “We are of course sending a message to the Israelis. We maintain full contact with them. Our ambassador is in regular contact with them. We are sending a message about the need to seek a peaceful solution rather than to complete the declared scorched-earth strategy in Gaza.”
* Hamas started the latest war but Israel made it worse by violating international humanitarian law
- “An absolutely unacceptable terrorist attack was committed against Israel, and Israel responded to that attack not being properly guided by the international humanitarian law. It announced that its response would be ruthless, that they would destroy Hamas. But it is impossible to destroy Hamas without destroying Gaza where the majority of the population is civilians.”
* The national security pretext upon which the US formulates its Mideast policy is false
- “The USA has always stated that the U.S. national security directly depends on the situation in the Middle East. If this is true, then they should have long encouraged the negotiations about the need to establish a Palestinian state in accordance with UN decisions that we have been talking about.”
As informed by Lavrov’s clarification, Russian policy towards this war can be summarized as follows:
* The refusal to grant Palestine its independence radicalized two generations of its people
* The terrorist attacks that some committed in the name of this cause perpetuated the cycle of violence
* Israel’s recalcitrant policy towards this issue inadvertently endangers its own security
* The same goes for the US’ blind support of Israel’s refusal to implement relevant UNSC resolutions
* Both are responsible in their own ways for Hamas’ rise to power in Gaza
* That group’s sneak attack in early October was an act of terrorism that provoked the latest war
* But Israel’s disproportionate response violates international law and created a humanitarian crisis
* The peace process appears doomed for now but a ceasefire might still be possible
* Russia’s long-term goal is to mediate the implantation of a two-state solution where both live in peace
Those who want to learn more about this can review the following analyses citing other official sources:
Bottom line: Russia blames Israel, Hamas, and the US for this war, and will try to mediate a resolution.