· Vatican City ·

Interview with Palestinian Deputy Foreign Minister Amal Jadou

The ceasefire must be immediate

 The ceasefire must be immediate  ING-044
03 November 2023

Amal Jadou served as a diplomat for many years before becoming the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the State of Palestine in 2019. She granted the following interview to “L’Osservatore Romano” from her office in Ramallah.

From your perspective, what possible developments do you foresee in the coming hours and days?

We are certainly very concerned about the potential escalation of the conflict leading to further innocent bloodshed, in addition to the horrors we have already witnessed in recent days. Our primary concern is, of course, the fate of our people in both Gaza and the West Bank. Palestine is paying a tremendous toll in terms of civilian casualties. The violence of the Israeli forces is indiscriminate and shows no regard for anyone — women, elderly, children, individuals with disabilities. But most importantly, we are concerned about the international community’s reactions, which seem to be marked by silence or a neutrality that forgets the suffering that the Palestinian people have endured for the past 75 years. It strikes me that many are calling for the creation of humanitarian corridors, which, while useful, presuppose the inevitability of war, but no one is strongly demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Except for Pope Francis.

Yes, except for Pope Francis.

We are now in the fourth week of the war, and the full-scale invasion of Gaza by the Israeli armed forces has not yet occurred.

For days, Israel has been declaring the imminent possibility of a “ground operation”, which has not yet materialized. I believe they are fully aware that entering Gaza will not be easy, and leaving will be even more difficult. They know that the impact on the civilian population would be severe and terrible. I think that the opinions and advice from the Biden administration have played a role in their delay. The Americans remember the consequences of their entry into Afghanistan and Iraq. These disasters suggest to Israel the need to carefully consider what might happen if Israeli soldiers were to enter and, more importantly, remain in Gaza.

If the international community manages to impose a ceasefire, is your government ready to take on the administration of Gaza?

I don’t think this question makes sense today. The current situation places a different, more urgent question before us, which is to stop the needless escalation of violence that Israel is inflicting on our people. No one can doubt the willingness shown by my government over the years towards a peaceful future for the entire region, and our commitment to diplomacy and mediation is not in question. However, our approach has been frustrated by Israel’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the legitimate right of Palestinians to have their own free and independent state.

Have your relations with Hamas changed since 7 October?

Hamas is, in our view, a Palestinian political party with both a political and a military wing. It is a party with electoral representation. That said, I don’t think it’s currently relevant to focus on distinctions within the Palestinian people. Those currently under Israel’s brutal bombardment are not discussing these distinctions. As a people, we feel unified in a common sense of pain, frustration, and indignation over what we are enduring. I want to emphasize, in response to your question, that the plo (Palestine Liberation Organization, ed.) is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and the two-state solution remains our strategic goal.

The world’s attention is, of course, primarily focused on Gaza, but from your office in Ramallah, can you update us on the situation in the West Bank?

Unfortunately, the ongoing incidents and violence occurring daily in Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, and throughout the occupied West Bank have been somewhat overshadowed. Israeli forces have committed dozens of killings in the West Bank since 7 October. We are particularly concerned about the increasing presence of armed civilian settler groups alongside the Israeli military, committing heinous acts under the indifferent gaze of the soldiers. Equally concerning is the fact that the closure of checkpoints prevents thousands of Palestinian workers from reaching their jobs, which provide them with a minimal livelihood during this crisis. I, too, despite my diplomatic and government status, have been confined to Ramallah for the past 20 days, unable to reach my family in Bethlehem. In conclusion, I would like to make an appeal to Pope Francis: due to his recognized moral authority and sensitivity to the causes of the weak and oppressed, his voice for an immediate ceasefire is extremely important today.

By Roberto Cetera