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June 25—Speaking in the second panel session of the Schiller Institute’s June 15-16 international video conference, “The World on the Brink: for a New Peace of Westphalia!”His Excellency Ambassador Prof. Manuel Hassassian, ambassador of the Palestinian Authority to Denmark, gave fulsome praise and endorsement of the Oasis Plan for Peace Through Development in the Mideast, being circulated by the Schiller Institute and its chairwoman and founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche.

The Plan, first put forward by Zepp-LaRouche’s late husband, the American economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche nearly 50 years ago, was originally developed by Mr. LaRouche and his associates at the request of forces in Israel seeking a pathway to peace. It has been revived again in the present crisis, where it has found support among those in the region, including in Israel, desperate to again walk down a pathway toward peace and mutually beneficial development and prosperity, who seek to turn the “weapons of war into plowshares” and who share the vision for peace of such a great leader as former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.

The Plan stands in sharp contrast to the genocidal policies of the current Israeli Prime Minister, the butcher of Gaza, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, who had incited Rabin’s assassination in 1995. While the Plan is thought to enjoy widespread support within Palestinian circles, the remarks by H.E. Ambassador Hassassian, who has spoken at another Schiller sponsored event, is the first public endorsement of the Oasis Plan by a ranking PLA official.

Below, is a slightly edited transcript of Ambassador Hassassian’s remarks, which also offer his assessment of the situation in Gaza. Subheads and one footnote have been added.

AMBASSADOR PROF. MANUEL HASSASSIAN: I would like to start my address by thanking the Schiller Institute for this opportunity to address your esteemed conference. I’m sorry. I’m not going to be with you [for the full time of the panel] because I’ll be traveling.

The Oasis Plan

I would like to start my speech by giving a brief synopsis about the Oasis Plan, because later my discussion or deliberation will be about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and how that will be [resolved] in the context of a plan that will really bring peace, security, and justice through economic development and through ties between North and South. Allow me to start by shedding a brief light on the Oasis Plan, sponsored by the Schiller Institute under the title “LaRouche Solution for Peace Through Development between Israel and Palestine and for all Southwest Asia.” Peace through economic development is the only successful basis for a lasting and just peace in the Middle East region.

There is no purely military basis for peace or security; a military solution has never been a solution. So, there is no purely military basis for peace or security; only development is essential, and the greatest impediment to development in our region, which is the Middle East region and Southwest Asia, is the shortage of fresh water, as everybody knows. If we don’t solve this problem, the next war in the Middle East is going to be over water resources. Through the construction of a network of desalination plants, ideally nuclear powered, that could turn the seawater into fresh water [as the Oasis Plan proposes], this problem can be resolved.

These plants could connect the Red Sea with the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea with the Mediterranean as outlined in the Plan. But it will only come about by rejecting power politics, rejecting geopolitics, and building a new paradigm of international relations that is based on a new concept of economic development, [such that] security and development will prevail as a Great Design. As Helga Zepp-LaRouche once said—and I’m quoting—“You have to have hope and give the youth a decent future to have a normal life of doing useful things.” This Plan should be applicable to the Palestine-Israel conflict, for its finality and for its duration, or longevity, for peace and security.”

The Situation in Palestine

Now let me shed light on the current situation in Palestine. I think it is important to know the enormity of this great conflict that has been affecting the entire world. As you can see, it has swept all over the world, with public opinion that is becoming more and more aware of what the Palestinians are going through in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Israel’s ongoing apocalyptic military campaign against Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem comes on top of 76 years of persecution, displacement, and genocide. It has resulted in mass destruction. It has resulted in displacement of over 90% of the Gazan population, and the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of innocent civilians—most [of whom], as you know, are women and children.

All this amounts to alert observers as war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Palestinians have been killed in the thousands when [their] homes, schools, hospitals, shelters, mosques, churches, refugee camps have been mercilessly bombed in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology in continuation of decades of purging. In a nutshell, this is a textbook case of genocide.

For the past 250 days, Israel has conducted a sustained campaign of airstrikes targeting civilians in Gaza. In the latest escalation, around 300 Palestinians have been massacred, with over 800 wounded at Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. [This occurred in the June 8 “rescue” of four Israeli hostages held by Hamas—ed.]

The total death toll in Gaza stands at approximately more than 37,000 to date, with half of the victims being children. Tragically, [the bodies of] over 10,000 martyrs are believed to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings. This dire situation is exacerbated by the loss of 147 UN personnel and the destruction of 32 hospitals, leaving only a few operational facilities with limited resources. Furthermore, all educational institutions, including schools and universities, have been decimated, and numerous religious sites such as churches and mosques, have been completely destroyed. [Israeli] Control of the Rafah border crossing further restricts access to essential [humanitarian] supplies, including fuel, preventing the functioning of vital services. As a result, approximately 70% of Gaza’s infrastructure lies in ruins, intensifying thus the humanitarian crisis in the region.

What label best describes this conflict? Is it a defensive war, with Israel protecting itself? Or is it a campaign to suppress a people striving for independence? Sometimes, I find it ironic when I discuss with European or American officials, as I’ve done countless times in my diplomatic career, and they continuously advocate for a two-state solution while Palestine faces increasing destruction. Despite this reality, the rhetoric persists. If they truly support a two-state solution, why do they wield veto power—i.e., the United States—in the United Nations, especially when nearly 140 countries have recognized Palestine? Europe often follows the lead of the United States in this matter, raising questions about balance in their approach to the two-state solution.

Today, Palestinians are advocating for the fundamental human principle of self-determination. The question arises as to why the global community universally supports self-determination, as articulated in [former U.S. President] Woodrow Wilson’s 14th Point[1]; yet this principle is often disregarded in the context of Palestine. This prompts reflection on whether Palestinians are perceived as deserving less consideration in their quest for recognition as an independent nation-state within the international community.

The conflict is not simply a matter of competing claims over shared land; it is perceived [by we Palestinians] as an incursion by Israel. The Zionist endeavor received backing from the international community, which bears the brunt of responsibility to reverse the consequences of these actions.

The discourse on the practices associated with this contentious occupation could extend for hours, yet the crux of the matter is clear: how can we bring about an end to this conflict? Who are the primary stakeholders endeavoring to forge a resolution? It’s frustrating that despite positioning itself as the gavel-holder of the peace process for the last three decades, the United States has faltered, resorting more to crisis management than conflict resolution. It’s evident that the U.S. has failed dismally in its role as an honest broker for peace, as it has disproportionately supported, inequitably, Israel, the dominant party, over Palestine, the marginalized counterpart.

Misplaced Faith in America

Regrettably, our faith in the Americans has been misplaced. I feel sorry for the American citizens who are governed by such ineffective leadership in the United States, with a myopic vision of fostering global security and peace. A President advocating for humanitarian access is paradoxically sending thousands of bombs, resulting in the deaths of innocent children and [adult] Palestinians in Gaza. How can we tolerate such senile statements from a President who seems out of touch with reality? Sadly, the alternative isn’t any more promising.

In the current global landscape, the notion of using individuals or countries as mere pawns in international conflicts is increasingly deemed untenable. While such conflicts have the potential to escalate into regional or even global wars, the root causes often trace back to fundamental issues like extreme hunger, abject poverty, lack of economic development, and national interests.

Therefore, a question arises: What implications would the recognition of Palestine as a state hold for the international community? Notably, Palestine has previously demonstrated willingness to compromise, as evidenced by its acceptance of only 22% of historic Palestine for statehood in 1988. This territory encompasses the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, while the remaining 78% was accorded to the Zionist project. Despite this heavy compromise, the quest for further territorial expansion, particularly in the West Bank, persists among the Israelis. That said, it is important to note that Israel’s interest in Gaza primarily revolves around security considerations, and access to oil, rather than territorial ambitions.

Over the past two decades, there’s been a notable absence of effective and charismatic global leadership, contributing to a sense of stagnation or decline amidst ongoing conflicts, hunger, and injustice. This raises questions about the quality of democratic representation and the influence of political parties in shaping leadership choices. Despite the abundance of intellectual and institutional resources in the United States, exemplified by renowned think tanks and academic institutions like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, etc., the Presidential candidacy of figures like [Joe] Biden and [Donald] Trump is viewed by some as impotence and ineffective. This highlights concerns about the dominance of political elites over the electoral process, rather than genuine grassroots leadership.

The effectiveness of the United States as a third party mediator to bridge the gap and inequity between two sides that are not on equal footing is called into question. In negotiations between Israel and Palestine, the imbalance in power dynamics is evident. The United States, holding a dominant position, [has] often drafted resolutions favoring Israel, leaving the Palestinians with little choice but to comply. This lack of parity undermines the essence of genuine negotiations, which ideally involve symmetric negotiations between two contending powers striving to resolve their differences. However, in this context, negotiations were dictated more by power politics than by sincere dialogue. The Palestinians, as the underdog party, consistently have born the brunt of these imbalances.

The Situation in Israel

The current state of demonstrations in Israel may appear misleading; it’s crucial to understand the broader public sentiment. There has been a significant shift in Israeli public opinion since the first Intifada of 1987, with a predominant support for right-wing leadership. The influence of left-progressive elements has diminished, leading to their marginalization within the political landscape. The emergence of figures like [the Minister of National Security, Itamar] Ben-Gvir, [the Minister of Finance Bezalel] Smotrich, and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in positions of power reflects this right-wing trend. Consequently, the potential for a more liberal government advocating for peace has been hindered by the current perceived prevailing right-wing sentiment in Israeli society.

There’s a risk of instigating wider conflicts, with Egypt probably, with Lebanon for sure, and Iran. Despite the situation being contained thus far, the failure of the U.S. to bring a ceasefire has compromised its total credibility.

The current situation in Israel is very volatile, with escalating tensions suggesting a perilous path. Observers are expressing the belief that the destruction of Israel is underway, highlighted by recent events such as student protests in America. These protests unveil a broader critique of the Biden administration’s handling of international conflicts, including the Gaza crisis and the Ukraine war. Pundits view this as indicative of a larger pattern of failure in asserting American dominance on the global stage.

Conclusion

Today, the impetus for conflict is often rooted in national and economic interests rather than pure ideology. However, the zealous commitment of individuals driven by religion remains a concern to us. It is important to prevent any potential escalation into a religious conflict, particularly between Muslims and Jews. Our focus is on the pursuit of a national struggle, guided by the secular ideology of establishing a democratic entity in Palestine, which aligns with the beliefs of our leadership. Yet, this vision necessitates collective efforts, including presidential and legislative elections in Palestine, as well as comprehensive reform in our political infrastructure. I say the above as self-criticism, because I have to be honest as an academic in order to outline the major steps required to realistically attain sustainable and lasting peace.

Finally, embracing the LaRouche concept of economic development, as espoused by the Schiller Institute, could play a pivotal role in creating global security, through regional security, through resolving long-standing conflicts such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. By prioritizing economic ties over military solutions, nations from the north to the south can embrace a win-win approach that promotes global stability and prosperity.

I wish the conferees all the good luck in their endeavors, and I hope my message is loud and clear. Let’s work all together for peace, stability, through economic stability and through what we call the LaRouche concept, which is the Oasis Plan. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

 

[1] On Jan. 8, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress, proposing 14 Points, his ideas for a post World War I settlement. Point 14: “A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.”