Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace has warned Israel risks losing its “legal” and “moral” authority if it continues with its “killing rage” in Gaza, as he appealed to all sides to pursue a two-state solution.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Wallace insisted he was not calling for an immediate ceasefire in the region, but for Israel to “stop this crude and indiscriminate method of attack”.

If not, he said the actions of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government could “fuel the conflict for another 50 years” and “radicalise Muslim youth across the globe”.

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Mr Netanyahu has been criticised over the country’s tactics against Hamas following the group’s terror attacks on 7 October, which Israel has said saw 1,200 people killed and 240 more taken hostage.

While Israel has been given support by some to defend itself, there has been growing concern over the impact on civilians in the Gaza Strip during its ground and air offensive.

Over the weekend, there was a shift in language from the UK government, with Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron joining Germany in calling for a “sustainable ceasefire”, saying that “too many civilians have been killed”.

In his article, former Army officer Mr Wallace pointed to his experience during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, saying actions like internment showed “a disproportionate response by the state can serve as a terrorist organisation’s best recruiting sergeant”.

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Ben Wallace served as the UK’s defence secretary between 2019 and 2023

He said he was “unequivocal” in his condemnation of Hamas, but while going after the organisation is “legitimate… obliterating vast swathes of Gaza is not”.

Mr Wallace added: “We are entering a dangerous period now where Israel’s original legal authority of self-defence is being undermined by its own actions.

“It is making the mistake of losing its moral authority alongside its legal one.”

Pointing to Israel’s prime minister, he wrote: “I am sure that the shame Benjamin Netanyahu feels for not foreseeing the 7 October attacks is deep, especially for someone who presented himself as a security hawk and tough guy.

“But perhaps that shame is driving him to lose sight of the long term.

“Netanyahu’s mistake was to miss the attack in the first place. But if he thinks a killing rage will rectify matters, then he is very wrong. His methods will not solve this problem.

“In fact, I believe his tactics will fuel the conflict for another 50 years. His actions are radicalising Muslim youth across the globe.”

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that he was ‘proud to have prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state’

Mr Wallace also criticised Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, who in an interview with Sky News last week dismissed a two-state solution after the conflict ends.

“She is wrong,” he wrote. “There must be. It has been the answer ever since the creation of modern-day Israel.”

But he claimed that once the IDF had withdrawn from Gaza, moderate Palestinian voices calling for a two-state solution would face “extinction” and “international sympathy will have expired”, with Israel “forced to exist in an even greater state of siege” as Hamas would still exist.

The former minister added: “The path to peace, just like in Northern Ireland, means we have to keep trying and do all we can to marginalise the extremes.

“With the Oslo accords, we came close to realising a two-state solution. Now is the time to re-energise that process.”

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