Date :Sunday, November 18th, 2018 | Time : 23:53 |ID: 78334 | Print

Middle East states need to speak to their enemies to resolve conflicts

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SHAFAQNA- States in the Middle East must “speak to their enemies” to resolve conflicts and also create a situation for better co-operation in the region, a senior former diplomat has said Abu Dhabi’s Diplocon event.

Terje Rød-Larsen, a Norwegian who was a key figure in brokering the Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine in the 1990s, said a “new fault line” had emerged, between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and their allies on one side, and Iran and its friends on the other.

“This was now the primary issue of concern among the region’s governments so leaving even the Israel-Palestine dispute pushed to the margins”, he said.

He emphasized the Middle East is also the only region in the world where not all parties are sitting at the same table. There’s no table where you have all the Arabs, Turkey, Iran and Israel.

“The efforts to establish lines of communication between rival governments in the Middle East had been unsuccessful”, he added in a discussion at Diplocon, a conference organised by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi.

“The most important thing to do now is to create a situation where there is better co-operation in the region”, he said.

“There’s no point in only speaking to your friends, you need to speak to your enemies to resolve conflicts. I think this is a flaw and something should be done about it.”

“The whole geo-political landscape of the Middle East has changed quite fundamentally,” said Mr Rød-Larsen, who is President of the International Peace Institute. “Unfortunately, the Palestinian issue has been pushed to the margins of the focus in the region”.

Mr Rød-Larsen also recall his time as a negotiator with the UN, calling  for Israel to withdrawal from Southern Lebanon. He was forced to take a tough line with Tel Aviv with the backing of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General at the time.

He recalled a compromise between Israel and Lebanon over a tomb on the border, which both sides claimed as a holy site, where people from both countries would be able to visit, was undermined due to  Israel “bulldozed” a hill so the tomb would be inaccessible from the Lebanese side.

Mr Rød-Larsen threatened to make sure the Security Council would not recognise an end to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon.

He received a call from the Israeli Prime Minister, who he said told him that he would have him fired if he pushed for the rebuilding of the hill.

“He asked Kofi Annan to fire me because of the hill. But, they rebuilt the hill”, The National reported.

Israel eventually did withdraw from Lebanon in 2000.

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