Rodica Radian-Gordon, Israel’s ambassador to Spain, is convinced that Hamas has been the one who “provoked” the last war in the Gaza Strip, which ended this Thursday after 11 days of continuous bombing, 244 Palestinians killed (including 65 minors). ), and 12 Israelis. His calm responses clash with the emotional discourse of his Palestinian counterpart when they discuss the origins of the conflict.
“Obviously there is no symmetry in the number of victims and this is for several reasons. First, because we have [el sistema antimisiles] Iron Dome, which has been more than 90% effective, “she says. The other reason, according to her, is that Hamas hides among the civilian population.” It is not the first time that the Israeli Army has fought against an entrenched network. among the civilian population and has tried to do things in a surgical way, but it is very difficult. “RELATED
What does the ceasefire mean?
With the ceasefire, we entered a period of calm with a high deterrent capacity on the part of Israel, including in terms of possible attacks by other entities in the region. On the other hand, the Palestinians in Gaza, and the Palestinians in general, will have to choose between Hamas, whose leadership condemns them to further destruction and poverty, and a possible different leadership in the future that deals with their problems constructively.
There have been secretaries general and special rapporteurs of the UN who have described what happened in Gaza as a “collective punishment”. What is your response to this accusation?
Until 2005 we had settlements and a presence in Gaza. So we came out of there exactly with the idea of letting them run their lives and have their administration. In 2006 and 2007 Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority and it became a center for terrorism. A center of terror within a civilian population of two million people. We are talking about 20,000 fighters who are holding two million hostages.
When you have a group like that, you can’t let them threaten you all the time. That is why these conflicts have been produced and repeated since 2008. We must end this situation and we must change the balance of power. That is what we have tried to do now.
You were talking about the difference in the number of victims between the two parties. With such a difference, there are those who question Israel’s argument for self-defense.
I think trying to count the dead now is a very cynical argument. It’s not about the death toll, it’s about the threat. We are not interested in more deaths, we are interested in weakening the Hamas presence and restoring calm in the region. We want to live. This year we have managed to have peace with countries [árabes] further afield and I wish we could do the same with the Palestinians.
In the latest offensive, both Israel and Hamas have been accused by UN special rapporteurs of possible war crimes. It is something very serious. As you represent the Israeli side, I ask about your case Is Israel committing war crimes?
Well my answer is a resounding no. Also, one of the differences between Israel and Hamas is that we, being a democracy, have a very strong legal system. The Israeli army has a specialized department in international law that serves as a lesson in the face of previous conflicts. Before starting the attacks, we studied a lot that everything complies with international law and that the chosen targets are legitimate and military targets. The Army has the proof. There have also been cases where the situation has not been so clear and we have investigated what happened. The domestic system is stronger than any international system and this is our answer.
Much of the latest crisis was triggered by the evictions of Arab families in Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem. What is Israel’s position on this issue?
Sheikh Jarrah was one of the most delicate points and the Israeli Government did everything possible so that it was not debated in the Supreme Court at this time, knowing that we were talking about very sensitive dates. That is why it was postponed. So it is a pretext. In Sheikh Jarrah there is a different legal situation because… it is a matter of history. Before 48 there were Jewish people who lived there and they have the documents to prove it. That is why he is on the Supreme Court of Israel.
But the case of Shaikh Jarrah is not an isolated case. There have been more judicial processes for the recovery of land by Jews. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that there is no homologous legislation in Israel so that the Arab side can also recover land.
There is legislation, but I am not going to go into details now. The situation is quite complicated. There is no 100% parallel legislation, but there are other ways.
In this case, OCHA maintains that the transfer of parts of the civilian population of the occupying power to the territory it occupies is prohibited and may constitute a war crime. What is the Israeli position?
War situations cause impossible situations. The way to solve all this is through a direct dialogue that brings many things to the table. In the past we have had several rounds of negotiations with the Palestinians in the 1990s, in 2000, in 2008 and in 2014. For our part, we agreed to deal with very sensitive issues, including settlements. We have already shown several times, in 2005 and a little later, that there are situations in which we can dismantle settlements. If it were a common understanding, I am sure we could reach agreements.
What we do not want and do not accept is that someone from the United Nations or I do not know what international organization comes and dictates the results to us. These things have to be established between the parties. Unfortunately, for many political reasons on both sides we are not in a position to start negotiating. The Palestinians have decided to take this street of international organizations, which is something that Israel will not accept and then it will not get anywhere. They may make statements or decisions, but they will not be implemented because to implement a solution there has to be consensus.
Does Israel consider that the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War in the West Bank and Jerusalem should be applied?
It is a legal issue, but it has a background that is not, and these are the ties of the Jewish people with these places within the West Bank and Jerusalem. Israel cannot be considered as a colonialist power because we have never had official borders, but they were borders of the truce of ’49. In ’48, the decision was made to create a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arabs rejected the decision and the fighting began in ’48. Until ’67, these territories were Jordanian territories. Then the Palestinians in ’64 defined themselves as “people.” Before ’64 there was no Palestinian self-identification in itself. After the war of ’67 the Arab countries refused to negotiate with Israel and then we were left with the territories.
This whole situation is not a classic situation where it can be said that this or another convention applies. Everything has to be agreed under negotiations that we cannot do right now.
An unprecedented level of violence between its own Arab and Jewish citizens has also recently been seen within Israel. Is the country’s social balance in danger?
Well, without a doubt it is something that we had not seen before and that worries us all. The interesting thing is that in recent months we are seeing a real effort on the part of Arab political leaders to integrate more within the Israeli political system to bring tangible results to their community. This means that Arab citizens understand that opportunities must be seized for greater integration. The violence comes from an extreme minority on both sides. This has been a signal to warn us of how dangerous division can be.
Do you think that the promulgation in 2018 of the law of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People has increased those tensions? Being 20% of the country Arab population, there were those who criticized it for the question of self-determination or capitalism.
No, because here again it is something that has to do with self-definition and with a dynamic between individual rights and community rights of a minority. This law touches community rights. Israel is a Jewish state and these are laws that try to bring out this facet of Israel as the state for Jews around the world who want it.
Before we talked a bit about the criticism of international organizations. How do these criticisms from NGOs and even the UN affect you? For example, Human Rights Watch recently called Israel’s policies apartheid.
Of course they worry. No country, least of all a democratic country, wants to be criticized. What happens is that they are lying accusations. We don’t always have to react to every lying criticism. There are elements on the Palestinian side that want to shame us and it consists of doing it through these organizations. That is why we are not always ready to explain or show everything to each organization and less to those who already know from the beginning what the conclusions will be and that we could even write the final report ourselves. We are open to criticism, but it has to be a fair criticism.
And when those criticisms come from the UN, are there any special considerations?
Well it depends … If you are referring to the International Criminal Court, there we also have quite strong arguments why we do not accept it. They are very well founded and legitimate arguments.
The settlements have been highly criticized and even considered illegal by the International Court of Justice. Do you think they are an obstacle to peace?
On some occasions we have shown that we can dismantle settlements. Furthermore, all of these settlements are going to be on the negotiating table when the time comes. In the negotiations of 2008 and 2009, there was talk of borders that took into account part of the settlements and in exchange, an exchange of territories was contemplated.
What I want to say is that the issue of settlements is something that has a solution. Now why not dismantle all the settlements? Because it is, again, about the historical ties of the Jewish people with these places. But I am sure that if we come in good faith from both sides, we will reach a solution. Some of the events of the past have shown that we can come to understandings in this regard.
What would be the ideal solution for Israel?
Well, it was living in peace with our neighbors. Undoubtedly.
One or two states?
This I leave to the politicians. Let them decide.