Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Caribbean Community governments this week condemned what they termed the savage nature of the Palestinian-Israeli war in the Middle East, calling for an immediate ceasefire while restating the region’s position that a two-state solution is the way to go.

“The savage nature of the attacks and counterattacks are the antithesis of civilized life and living. Innocent lives are being lost amidst the fervor and violence of the actual combatants,” the 15-nation grouping said. “Caricom thus joins the responsible members of the international community in calling for an immediate ceasefire and end of hostilities by all parties. The recent round of hostilities reflects the pain and suffering of ancient quarrels. A two-state solution is the best way to achieve comprehensive peace, security, and tranquility between Israel and Palestine,” the governments argued.

As governments appealed for peace, anti-Israel demonstrations and protest actions are beginning to emerge not only among the region’s Islamic population, but in the general population as well.

At the weekend, protest marches were staged in Guyana and Trinidad, each with a Muslim population of around 10%. The current Guyanese president is Muslim. On Sunday, about 300 Guyanese Muslims and Christians took part in a protest walk in Georgetown, the capital, where former President Donald Ramotar also addressed the crowd.

In neighboring Trinidad, about 500 people marched down city streets to protest Israel’s overwhelming response to attacks by Hamas militants.

The Islamic Missionaries Guild organized the march with spokesperson Imtiaz Mohammed recalling the history of the conflict as he called for support for Palestinians.

“Do you support the actions of Hamas? Do you recognize Hamas? Those are the kind of questions that you get from the media. Let me answer that question: One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent said a solution has to be found quickly as war crimes are being committed in this conflict.

“Indeed, Israel has imposed a veritable colonialism, including a harsh settler-colonialism and a forceful, illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, which has given rise to intense Palestinian resistance and a brutal Israeli response. Sadly, innocent lives are being lost, needlessly. Successive governments of Israel, more particularly those headed, or unduly influenced, by right-wing and ultra-nationalist forces, including the current government, have refused repeatedly to ensure the practical implementation of ‘a just and lasting peace,’” Gonsalves said. “War crimes, contrary to international law, are evidently being committed with impunity. A day of reckoning on these crimes surely must come. We call for a cessation of hostilities on all sides and the embarkation of a quest for a just and lasting peace in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNSCR 242.”

As the conflict rages on, senior diplomatic and government officials across the region are beginning to make their views known. Ronald Sanders, Antigua’s ambassador to the U.S., said in a brief history of the decades-old situation that Israel has used the opportunity of every flare-up to grab more Palestinian land.

“Whatever the purposes—and there were many—behind a slaughter of 1,200 persons, including children, Hamas gave the perfect cover to the Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel to try to carry out a long-desired objective by many Israelis. And that is to annex Gaza and cleanse it of Palestinians who are either refugees or descendants of refugees who were forced to flee from Palestine in 1948 when Israel announced its independence and a bitter war ensued between the nascent Israeli State and surrounding Arab countries,” he wrote in a weekend column. “What built even greater resentment was that after the war, Israel destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages and adopted an ‘Absentees’ Property Law’ by which the government confiscated land and houses that Palestinians were forced to abandon. Over the years, there have been several attempts to negotiate a two-state solution to the problem, but with no success. Meanwhile, with each war, Israel has secured more territory, both occupying and settling it with Jewish people.”

He said that now is not the time to take sides and governments around the world need to stop the escalating violence and carnage from which nothing good will result.

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